House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner will hold hearings on the workings of a Justice Department fund that funnels money to local drug task forces around the country, Newsweek reports. The case that brought the program to light is in Tulia, Texas, where a lone undercover cop’s alleged falsified testimony swept up 38 mostly black young people in an early-morning raid. The cop was indicted for perjury, and a lower court has recommended overturning all 38 sentences.
Critics hope to get some support in the Senate, too. Texas Sen. John Cornyn was state attorney general at the time of the Tulia arrests in 1999 and presented the undercover cop the “lawman of the year” award. Cornyn’s spokesman says he merely handed the award over in a ceremony and did not choose the recipient. Cornyn started a state investigation of the abuses when the federal one lagged. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which pressed the Tulia cases, says, “He led us into this; now let him lead us out.”