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Tulia, continued from page 7 treat him differently since he’s been back. “I haven’t set down and talked to `em now like I want to,” he said. Donnie learned a lot during his time in prison: how to light a cigarette using a 220 volt electrical outlet and a lead pencil, how to improve his “coping skills” with his wife and two sons, how to make coffee without a coffee pot. He also developed an appreciation for Louis L’Amour. Mostly he learned to expect less from his town. He did not hear from any of his friends while he was inside, he said. “It was all, ‘You get that money I sent?'” he scoffed. “What money?” Nor was there much help from the state in finding a job or readjusting to life on the outside.”You’re on your own. That’s what I learned.” The mother of Donnie’s two sons, Lawanda, recently lost her job at Alco, the discount store in Tulia. She had been arrested in the sting as well, but received deferred adjudication, so no conviction would appear on her record. When she came up for a promotion, a regional manager ran a background check on her, found the arrest record, and told her not to come back. As soon as he gets some money saved, Donnie said, he’d like to get out of Tulia and take his family with him. What happened to the other players in the sting? Thirteen of the defendants are still in prison and serving long sen tences, despite the fact that the state legislature passed several reforms in 2001 in response to what one member termed “the Tulia fiasco.”An FBI investigation announced two years ago seems to have petered out \(though the Times’ Herbert was told it was still Jeff Blackburn of the Tulia Legal Defense Project in Amarillo and Vanita Gupta of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York have taken up the cases of those still in prison. \(In a recent victory, an appeals court ordered evidentiary hearings for two of those conoffice has reorganized the grant program that funded the operation, putting task forces like the one that employed Coleman under the supervision of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Coleman himselfnamed a Lawman of the Year by John Cornyn following the bustshas since been fired from two separate narcotics postings around the state and has gone to ground in Waxahachie, where his lawyer deflects the media inquiries that still regularly come, from Court TV to the London Independent. Local authorities, for their part, have refused to condemn McEachern and Stewart’s handling of the cases or to call for the release of those still incarcerated. That includes Ed Self and Jack Miller, the district judges who heard the majority of the original cases. “The lesson in all of this is that there is no political benefit to ruling for these defendants, and the judges saw that clearly,” one defense attorney said. “They asked themselves, ‘Am I going to give up my career for these people?’ And the answer was, ‘No.'” Or as one person in the black community put it more succinctly, “There’s a lot of good, honest people in this community. They just don’t have any balls.” Paul Holloway found that out the hard way. An attorney in nearby Plainview, Holloway took on several of the cases in the original sting as a court-appointed attorney, and it was he who discovered much of Coleman’s personal and professional history. The son of a well-known Texas Ranger, as a deputy Coleman had skipped out on two different sheriff’s offices over the last five years, each time leaving thousands of dollars in unpaid bills around town. In interviews and documents collected by Holloway and other defense attorneys, former co-workers and associates of Coleman’s in both towns referred to him as a pathological liar and a paranoid gun nut. His most recent employer, the sheriff of Cochran County, filed charges on him in an effort to collect restitution and placed a letter in his official file warning future 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11/8/02