Vanita Gupta's impact on the law community and civil rights was immediate.
Just three months out of New York University Law School and still awaiting results of the bar test, Gupta represented the Legal Defense and Educational Fund as she investigated the arrests of dozens of African-Americans on drug charges in Tulia, Texas.
The defendants appealed and won a $6 million wrongful conviction lawsuit.
Gupta was the keynote speaker at the Law Day Luncheon Monday at the Cox Business Services Convention Center. The program was presented by the Oklahoma City University School of Law and the Oklahoma County Bar Association. The American Jury: We the People in Action, featured Gupta's role in the Texas legal action.
Gupta has now been a lawyer for four years. Born in the United States and raised in Europe, she returned for undergraduate work at Yale and received her law degree from New York University School of Law.
Right out of the box, her work in law had an impact not only on the criminal justice system, but the lives of the accused and convicted. Gupta organized 35 lawyers and took a look at the arrests.
On June 23, 1999, 12 percent of Tulia's African-American population was arrested on the words of undercover officer Tom Coleman. A total of 46 alleged drug dealers were arrested, and 40 were black.
The Tulia newspaper ran a headline that said 'Tulia Streets Cleared of Garbage,' she said. They were all convicted exclusively on the words of Coleman. …