Thursday, July 01, 2010

Last Tulia defendant sees case overturned by Texas CCA

Here's a coda to the "Tulia" episode worth noting, via the Amarillo Globe-News ("Decade old conviction overturned," July 1):
The state's highest criminal appeals court on Wednesday overturned the aggravated robbery conviction of a man arrested during the Tulia drug sting more than a decade ago.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals released a ruling Wednesday that grants Mandis Barrow, 32, a new court hearing on his probation revocation.

In its ruling, the high court said Barrow was entitled to a new hearing because of questions about former narcotics agent Tom Coleman's reliability and "pattern of perjury."

Barrow was serving deferred adjudication, a type of probation, for aggravated robbery when Coleman leveled charges that Barrow had sold drugs more than a decade ago.

In 1999, Barrow was arrested as part of the discredited Tulia raids, leading a judge to revoke his probation and impose a 20-year prison term.

In its ruling Wednesday, the appeals court agreed that a lower court would not have revoked Barrow's probation without Coleman's testimony.
See the brief, per curiam opinion. All those directly convicted based on Coleman's testimony long ago won their freedom, but because Barrow's case was a probation revocation, neither his case nor his twin brother's similar charges were dismissed along with the others.

The Tulia cases rocked the foundations of the justice system in this state. Occurring about the time Texas also saw its first DNA exonerations, ultimately the scandal led to the undoing of all of Texas' drug task forces when Gov. Rick Perry shifted their money to other priorities. It's regrettable, though, that justice comes so late for Mandis and Landis Barrow. I wish them both luck moving on with their lives.

MORE: From Alan Bean.


Rev.charlestulia said...

I wonder if they're going to be compensated for their ten years in prison.

Prison Doc said...

Grits, what is this "undoing of drug task forces"? There is one running amok in my home county now whose antics and damage have me calling it "Tulia Task Force Lite".

Anonymous said...

Were I the Barrows, I'd be suing the hell out of Texas.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Prison Doc, when Tulia happened, there were 51 regional task forces employing about 700 cops between them funded through federally "Byrne grants" that pass through the governor's office. Texas passed a law saying if task forces are multi-county (which they had to be to get federal grant funds) they had to report to DPS and follow their rules. Many refused to comply with DPS rules to the point that Rick Perry took away their money entirely in 2006.

There are still a few single county "task forces" that are funded with local money, which is probably what you're seeing. Email me ( with more detail and I'll poke around a little.