January 11, 2005
Coleman pleads Not Guilty

The perjury trial of disgraced gypsy cop Tom Coleman is underway. He has pleaded "not guilty" to the charges before him.

Tom Coleman is accused of lying under oath during a March 2003 evidentiary hearing about his investigation, which led to the arrests of 46 Tulia residents, 39 of them black.

A jury of seven men and five women was seated Monday, along with one female alternate.

The trial was moved to the 72nd District Court in Lubbock County after Swisher County prosecutors asked for a change of venue.

Coleman's indictments do not directly relate to the drug cases. Rather, he is accused of lying about stealing gasoline from a Cochran County-owned pump for his personal car and about when he learned that he faced a Cochran County theft charge.

On Monday, prosecutors waived a third perjury count in the indictment.

This trial may have some high-powered witness testimony:

The prosecution's witness list includes some high-profile names, including [Governor Rick] Perry and Sen. John Cornyn, who was Texas attorney general at the time of the drug busts. Also on the list is retired state District Judge Ron Chapman, who presided over the March 2003 hearings and called Coleman "the most devious, nonresponsive law-enforcement witness this court has witnessed in 25 years on the bench."

After jury selection, the subpoena for Perry was quashed because a Travis County constable submitted the summons to a general counsel instead of the governor.

Special prosecutor Rod Hobson vowed to reissue the subpoena and threatened to hold the constable in contempt for not serving the governor.

It was believed that Cornyn, whose subpoena was issued Jan. 4, had not been served by late Monday.

According to Alan Bean of Tulia Friends of Justice, other potential witnesses include "public officials from Cochran County, every defense attorney involved in the Tulia drug trials, a laundry list of Tulia defendants, Sheriff Larry Stewart, former District Attorney Terry McEachern, Judges Ed Self and Jack Miller, [and] Lubbock attorney Charlotte Bingham". Bean has another guest post up from the trial, and I may have to drive up to Lubbock and hound him until he agrees to start his own blog. Anyone who can seamlessly use a word like "contumacious" and be in the right place to overhear a quote like the following about Tom Coleman's defense attorney is someone we should all be reading every day: "It's like Gordon Liddy and Johnnie Cochran had a baby and named him John Read." Go forth and check it out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 11, 2005 to Crime and Punishment | TrackBack