In 1999, there was huge drug bust in the small, rundown town of
Texas. 46 people were arrested based solely on the testimony of one officer, Tom Coleman. What stood out about this series of arrests, however, is that almost all of the men, 40 to be exact, were black. In fact, this was about half of Tulia’s black male population. Despite the lack of any drugs, fingerprints, or other physical evidence in addition to the abundance of contradictions and outright lies in Coleman’s court testimony, the vast majority of the defendants were goaded into pleading guilty to get lesser sentences and were imprisoned. Coleman received commendations from the townspeople for his efforts, and it appeared that their grim fate was sealed.
Shortly after, however, news of this travesty began to leak and the NAACP and other civil rights figures got involved. With this shot in the arm of legal assistance and national attention, the defendants got a second chance and began clearing their names. Lawsuits were filed resulting a multi-million dollar settlement, and the governor eventually pardoned the wrongfully accused.
Now, Lionsgate is doing a movie on the Tulia 46 simply called Tulia.
Halle Berry has been attached to the property for some time in the role of the lead attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, which functioned as the primary engine for the legal challenges. However, the project had been adrift without a director. Now, it appears that Carl Franklin (Devil in a Blue Dress, One False Move) is in talks to helm the movie. With his arrival, development is finally underway and production is scheduled to begin in
Louisiana in May.