ACLU's Tulia Law Suit
|William Harrell||Jeff Blackburn|
|Executive Director||Cooperating Attorney|
|ACLU of Texas||ACLU of Texas|
|(512) 441-3195||(806) 371-8333|
September 28, 2000, Austin, Texas -- The ACLU of Texas announces its intentions to file a law suit against Tu lia Sheriff Larry Stewart, undercover agent Thomas Coleman and District Attorney Terry McEachern for a conspiracy to violate the civ il rights of the African American population of Tulia, Texas. The details of this law suit will be revealed at Noon on Friday September 29, 2000 on the South steps of the Capitol by ACLU of Texas Executive Director Will Harrell. Also present will be fa milies and orphans of the wrongly imprisoned Tulians. The civil law suit alleges the following claims:
Defendants' under color of law and in violation of 42 U.S.C. S 1983, have subjected Plaintiffs to the deprivatio
n of their rights, privileges and immunities secured by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Defendants
deliberately and selectively targeted and prosecuted Plaintiffs using the unjustifiable and arbitrary standard of race. This
was done with a discriminatory purpose and had a discriminatory and devastating effect. Defendants' purposeful discrimination
was intended to accomplish the forbidden aim of cleansing Tulia of its black population. Similarly situated non-blacks were no
t targeted nor prosecuted. Defendants' discriminatory actions have directly and proximately caused harm to Plaintiffs.
In violation of 42 U.S.C Section 1985(2), Defendants conspired together for the purpose of impeding, hindering,
obstructing, or defeating, the due course of justice in Texas with the intent to deny Plaintiffs the equal protection of the laws.&n
bsp; Defendants' actions have directly and proximately caused damage to the Plaintiffs.
In violation of 42 U.S.C. Section 1983(3), Defendants conspired together to go in disguise on the Plaintiffs' pr
emises to deprive Plaintiffs of the equal protection of the laws or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws. Defenda
nts' actions have directly and proximately caused harm to plaintiffs.
Defendants knowingly procured arrest warrants based on mistaken identity and baseless allegations to deprive Pla
intiffs of their liberty. Defendants' conduct amounts to a raw, wanton and arbitrary abuse of police power. No reasonabl
e police officer could have believed that plaintiffs had violated the law. Said conduct amounts to an intentional invasion of
guaranteed privacy interests resulting in the search and seizure of Plaintiffs without probable cause. Defendants' actions dir
ectly and proximately caused damage to Plaintiffs.
Defendants intentionally or with conscious indifference deprived Plaintiffs of their liberty without due process
of law. Their actions of selectively targeting the African American community in Tulia and their wanton departure from establ
ished practice worked a deprivation of Plaintiffs liberty interests in a manner unrelated to any legitimate object of arrest that sh
ocks the conscience. Defendants had the primary duty not to convict, but to see that justice was done and not to suppress fact
s or secrete witnesses capable of establishing the innocence of the accused. Further, they had the duty to insure a fair trial
for both the state and the defendant and to not impair the presumption of innocence. Defendants intentionally or with conscio
us indifference breached
these duties, violating Plaintiffs right to due process and directly and proximately causing them harm.
Defendants have established and caused the commencement of a criminal prosecution against the plaintiff that was
terminated in the Plaintiff's favor. The Plaintiff was innocent. There was no probable cause for the proceedings.
The charge was filed with malice resulting in damage to the plaintiff.
Defendant have made an illegal, improper, or perverted use of the arrest warrant for purposes other than those a
pproved by law and with no probable cause thereby causing damage to Plaintiffs.
Defendants willfully directed, requested, or participated in Plaintiff's detention without plaintiff's consent a
nd without authority of law thereby causing damage to Plaintiff.
Defendants intentionally or knowingly caused physical contact with Plaintiff when they knew or should have reas
onably believed that Plaintiff regarded the contact as offensive or provocative. Defendants actions directly and proximately c
aused damage to Plaintiff.
Defendants as officers or employees of the state or of a political subdivision of the state acting or purporting to act in an official capacity have, because of a Plaintiff's race, imposed an unreasonable burden on the Plaintiff.
The ACLU of Texas, through cooperating attorneys Jeff Blackburn, Van Williamson, and Jeff Frazier, are also handling some appeals of individuals wrongly convicted on the basis of evidence provided by Coleman. We are also forwarding al l relevant documentation to the United States attorney and urging that office to bring criminal prosecutions against Mr. Coleman and Mr. McEachern for perjury and suborning perjury respectively.
"This is a gross miscarriage of justice with clear racial motivations. The ACLU is seeking justice and retribu tion by using the civil rights statutes. These are the so-called anti-Klan laws which ironically were created to remedy the perpetual racism of the post-Civ il War south." announced Will Harrell, Executive Director of the Texas ACLU.
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