Baywatch director, Seth Gordon’s upcoming Hollywood movie will be about Indian American lawyer Vanita Gupta’s 1999 case of exposing police corruption and discrimination in Tulia, Texas and released 39 African Americans who were falsely convicted on drug charges, in 2003.
“I’m excited to bring this important and poignant story to a wider audience, to call attention to what happened in Tulia, and to showcase the incredible and heroic work Vanita Gupta did for its citizens,” Gordon said while announcing the film, according to Hollywood Reporter.
“Vanita Gupta is the daughter of an immigrant and a very inspiring and strong woman,” said Mubina Rattonsey, whose Los Angeles-based company is producing the film and who has been associated with projects in Bollywood.
“Tulia is her story, and for me, it represents what America stands for — the coming together of minds and hearts for justice. Vanita turned the case around; she won it…I was simply fascinated by her will to do the impossible,” she added.
But there is no word on who will play Gupta’s role.
According to a Hindustan Times report, Gupta headed the civil rights division of the justice department in the Obama administration and was the deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, prior to her appointment.
She now heads the DC-based Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, emerging as a leading critic of President Donald Trump and his administration on civil rights issues such as the handling of the Charlottesville race clashes.
In the case in Tulia, police officer Tom Coleman had no wire-taps, no seizures or independent corroboration of his so-called drug buys and the mostly white jury convicted the 39, sentencing them to 20 years in jail and in one case, more than 300.
The Hindustan Times report also included that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a group focused on ensuring civil rights for all, originally gave the case to its Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF), which in turn gave it to Gupta, who had joined the organization straight out of law school.
“Vanita convened and led the legal team representing the defendants in post-conviction proceedings,” the LDF said in a summary of the case on its website, adding that she and her team proved that “Coleman’s misconduct, which was not challenged during the trials, was egregious and that the convictions were completely unfounded.”
In 2003, a Texas judge concluded that Coleman was not credible and state prosecutors cleared each of the convictions, the defendants were pardoned by then governor Rick Perry and Coleman was charged and convicted of perjury.
However, Gupta thought that wasn’t enough and initiated a civil rights action on behalf of the wrongly convicted, who had been in jail for more than three years.
She eventually secured $6 million dollars in the settlement.