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Looks like probation for Coleman

I don’t think this is sufficient.

Tom Coleman was acquitted of testifying falsely in a 2003 hearing that as a sheriff’s deputy he never stole gas from county pumps, but he was found guilty of saying that he didn’t learn about the theft charge against him until August 1998.

Jurors deliberated his punishment for less than an hour before recommending a seven-year probated prison sentence. The judge can either follow their recommendation or come up with his own sentence. He is expected to rule Tuesday.

Aggravated perjury is a third-degree felony and carries a maximum 10-year sentence and $10,000 fine.

Coleman clamped his eyes shut and dropped his head when the judge said the sentence would be seven years. He started to fight back tears when the judge added that jurors said the prison sentence should be probated.

The Tulia defendants in the courtroom looked up when they heard seven years and shook their heads in disbelief when they heard the sentence would be probated.

John H. Read II, Coleman’s defense attorney, said his client should be given probation. He said sending a former police officer to prison could be dangerous.

“He’s got a problem if he’s sent to prison,” Read said, adding probation “is punishment enough.”

But prosecutors said he deserved a harsher punishment.

I think Tom Coleman definitely deserves some jail time. Maybe it’s inappropriate to shoehorn in punishments for all his other sins into the sentence for lying about when he knew there was a warrant out for his arrest, but the sentencing guidelines allow for prison time, and Lord knows, this guy has shown himself to be more than a one-time offender. I hope the judge considers this very carefully over the weekend.

You may wonder why I’m being so hardassed about this. I’ll let Lauri, who addresses the conviction of naked-pyramid fan Charles Graner along with that of Coleman, speak for me here:

I think that many people who normally defend the rights of the accused found themselves siding with the prosecutors. It’s because the defendants in both cases were accused of abusing their authority to deny the rights of possibly innocent people, I assume, and the evidence against both was pretty solid.

Yep. Like Lauri, I have very little sympathy for those who abuse power, in whatever fashion they do it.

More, as always, from Grits. The big news is that while Tom Coleman may get off lightly, the counties that help enable what others like him have done may not be so lucky.

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One Comment

  1. Mathwiz says:

    Maybe it’s inappropriate to shoehorn in punishments for all his other sins into the sentence for lying about when he knew there was a warrant out for his arrest, but the sentencing guidelines allow for prison time, and Lord knows, this guy has shown himself to be more than a one-time offender.

    It’s not at all inappropriate, even taking into account the recent Supreme Court decisions on the similar Federal sentencing guidelines.

    The Supremes ruled it’s unconstitutional to use “other sins” to extend a sentence beyond the statutory maximum, unless said other sins were proven to a jury. Coleman’s other sins weren’t, but that only means the judge is limited to the maximum sentence for whatever was proved.

    What was proved (one count of perjury) is sufficient for up to 10 years in prison, as I understand it. He should get at least two, IMO.