May 09, 2003
Tulia update

All of the pieces are in place for the 13 people who were convicted in the Tulia drug bust fiasco that are still in prison to be released. A special judge recommended that all convictions be overturned because the state's star (and sole) witness, Tom Coleman (who has since been indicted for lying under oath) was completely not credible. A special prosecutor has said that even if new trials are ordered, charges will not be filed. No one on God's green earth believes that these people deserve to spend another minute in prison.

No sane person believes that, anyway, and therein lies the rub because the decision lies in the hands of the Court of Criminal Appeals, which is the domain of Sharon Keller. They're taking their own sweet time to act on this, which has prompted a bill in the Senate that would allow a district judge to do the CCA's work for it.

"I kept thinking the process was going to work, but it's way too slow. They shouldn't spend another day in prison," said Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston.

Whitmire's Senate Bill 1948 would permit a district judge in Swisher County to release the 13 on bond while the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals deliberates their cases.

Whitmire scheduled the legislation for a public hearing on Monday before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, which he chairs.


Whitmire said Rep. Terry Keel, R-Austin, chairman of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and a former Travis County sheriff, will carry the bill in the House.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Whitmire "believes strongly in the bill."

"If it accomplishes what he's outlined to me in general, I'll be supportive," Dewhurst said.

Good on all of you. This is a disgrace and it needs to be made right.

And it wouldn't be a blog post without checking to see what kind of bold leadership our Governor is displaying:

Spokeswoman Kathy Walt said Gov. Rick Perry wanted to study the bill before commenting.

As always, he's up to the challenge. Here's the full text of the bill, in case you're curious.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 09, 2003 to Crime and Punishment | TrackBack