Wrongly Jailed Texans

Begin Splitting Settlement

LUBBOCK, Tex. -- Tulia residents wrongly charged and jailed in falsified drug cases five years ago began getting checks from a $6 million settlement stemming from a lawsuit alleging the arrests were racially motivated.

Retired judge Ron Chapman, who decided how the settlement would be divided among the 45 defendants, said distribution of the checks began Thursday night. The defendants will share $4 million; some of the lawyers who represented them will receive a total of $2 million.

Splitting $4 million among 45 people would mean the checks would average a little under $90,000, but lawyers in the case would not give details of the distribution.

Civil rights groups said the drug cases were racially motivated because 39 of the 46 arrested or charged in the 18-month drug sting operation were black. Tom Coleman, the former undercover agent who made the arrests, is white.

Coleman, 44, testified at trials that he bought cocaine from dealers in Tulia, although he had no audio or video surveillance to back up his claims. He faces aggravated perjury charges in post-conviction hearings for a few of those imprisoned.

* DENVER -- The military will not pursue charges against a U.S. soldier accused of cowardice after he sought help for panic attacks. After Staff Sgt. Georg-Andreas Pogany, 32, asked for counseling while in Iraq, his commanders sent him home to Fort Carson, Colo., to face a court-martial on a cowardice charge, which can be punishable by death. Military officials said charges have been dropped because Pogany "may have a medical problem that requires care and treatment."

* BOISE, Idaho -- A federal appeals court threw out an Idaho law requiring girls under age 18 to get parental consent for abortions, ruling that its provisions on emergency abortions were too strict. The ruling reversed a 2001 order by a U.S. magistrate upholding key provisions of the 2000 law.

* MADISON, Wis. -- Authorities charged James D. Perry, 34, with two rapes at shopping malls and with more than two dozen sexual assaults of small children. Prosecutors believe Perry raped as many as two dozen mall workers from 1999 to 2001. He has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of creating child pornography.

* ATLANTA -- Fulton County Sheriff Jacquelyn H. Barrett will take paid leave until the end of the year amid criticism of the county's overcrowded jail and a probe into $7.2 million of public money she invested, her attorneys said. Barrett, the nation's first female black sheriff when elected in 1992, is not seeking reelection.

* JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A woman was severely beaten by two men who grabbed her purse and then dragged her 60 feet down a street in a sport-utility vehicle before running her over, authorities said. The woman was in critical condition. Kevin Jerome Miller, 27, turned himself in hours after Thursday's attack. He was charged with aggravated battery. Police have not arrested the second man.

-- From News Services