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Governor Perry and Senator Cornyn subpoenaed

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  • Greg Cannon
    AP: 61 witnesses subpoenaed by special prosecutors in the Coleman trial, including Gov. Perry and John Cornyn!
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 11, 2005
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      AP: 61 witnesses subpoenaed by special prosecutors in
      the Coleman trial, including Gov. Perry and John


      Jury selection begins for former Tulia agent


      By BETSY BLANEY �/�Associated Press

      A judge began questioning a pool of 101 prospective
      jurors Monday in the perjury trial of a former police
      officer whose discredited Tulia drug busts put dozens
      of people in prison.

      Lawyers were expected to question them later Monday in
      the case of Tom Coleman, who could face up to 10 years
      in prison and a $10,000 fine on each of three felony
      charges of aggravated perjury. The trial centers on
      whether Coleman lied about his own arrest record
      during evidentiary hearings for some of the defendants
      in 2003.

      John H. Read II, one of Coleman's attorneys, said
      retired state district judge Ron Chapman wrongly
      stopped Coleman's testimony during the hearings after
      he, defense attorneys and prosecutors concluded
      Coleman was not a credible witness.

      "He wasn't able to explain what he said at the hearing
      because it wasn't handled properly," Read said. "They
      never let him come back and clear up the

      Coleman used no audio or video surveillance to
      substantiate drug buys he said he made while working
      in Tulia as an undercover agent for the Panhandle
      Regional Narcotics Trafficking Task Force.

      No drugs or money were found during the arrests. He
      worked alone and kept no written records of his drug
      buys, except for incident reports, some which were
      later determined to be false.

      Following the 18 months in the late 1990s in which
      Coleman built cases and made arrests, 38 people � most
      of them black � were convicted of selling small
      amounts of cocaine and received sentences of up to 90
      years apiece. Coleman is white.

      The cases received international attention after civil
      rights groups, including the National Association for
      the Advancement of Colored People, questioned whether
      the drug busts were racially motivated.

      Joe Welton Moore, who spent four years in prison as
      one of Coleman's drug busts, said he planned to watch
      the trial. He was sentenced to 90 years and was later
      among dozens of people in the case who were pardoned
      on a judge's recommendation after a 2003 hearing to
      determine if some of the 46 arrested in the small
      farming community received fair trials.

      Moore was supposedly the drug kingpin of Tulia even
      though he lived in a rundown house with hog pens on
      the property. After a one-day trial, Moore, who had a
      previous narcotics felony on his record, was

      Despite losing his farm and spending four years in
      prison, Moore said he doesn't want Coleman to go to
      prison. "Prison ain't no good place to be," Moore

      In August 2003, Gov. Rick Perry pardoned 35 of the 38
      defendants who went to trial or accepted plea
      agreements. Last year, 45 of those arrested split a $6
      million settlement of a civil rights lawsuit against
      Coleman and the 26 counties and three cities that were
      involved with the task force.

      Prosecutor Rod Hobson declined to comment. However,
      Perry and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, who was Texas
      attorney general at the time of the drug busts, are
      among the 61 witnesses Hobson's office has subpoenaed
      to testify.

      The trial is expected to last about a week.
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