Governor Rick Perry stepped into the controversy surrounding the 1999 Tulia drug busts for the first time on Tuesday when he asked the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to immediately review the cases of 38 people convicted in cases built by a now-discredited undercover agent.
In a statement, Perry said, "I urge you to begin an expeditious investigation into each of these cases and recommend whether a pardon, commutation of sentence of other clemency action is appropriate and just." He asked that the board give the highest priority to the cases of the 13 people still imprisoned. His action comes after he reviewed a filing to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that concluded that Tom Coleman, the sole undercover agent in the busts, was not a credible witness.
Perry's statement says that although the defendants have not sought clemency from the Governor's office, state law grants the governor the authority to ask the board to investigate cases. The Texas Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Justice Department have also been investigating the case.