Court: Judge Who Sentenced Jewish Man to Death Is Antisemitic

'Texas 7' member Randy Halprin may now get a new trial
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2021 3:24 PM CDT
Court: Judge Who Sentenced Jewish Man to Death Is Antisemitic
Randy Halprin, who was part of the so-called “Texas 7” gang who escaped from prison in 2000 and was convicted in the murder of an Irving police officer, enters the 283rd Judicial District Court on July 14, 2021, at Frank Crowley Courthouse in Dallas.   (Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News via AP, File)

Randy Halprin was six days from execution when an appeals court granted a stay in 2019. Two years later, the 44-year-old is destined for a new trial after a Texas judge determined his 2003 death sentence for capital murder, delivered by former Dallas County District Judge Vickers Cunningham, was the result of Cunningham's "deep-seated animosity and prejudice toward Jewish people." Lawyers for Halprin, who is Jewish, began looking more closely at the judge's actions following a 2018 interview with the Dallas Morning News, in which the judge confirmed he'd created a living trust that would financially reward his children if they married a person of the opposite sex who was white and Christian.

Cunningham claimed it was a "traditional family value" to marry within one's own race. Halprin's lawyers then began collecting witness statements to back up their argument that their client's right to due process was violated because of Cunningham's antisemitic views. Halprin was serving a 30-year sentence for injury to a child when he escaped a maximum-security prison in 2000 along with six others. One took his own life. Cunningham oversaw the trials of five of the remaining six, sentencing each to death under the state's "law of parties," as a police officer was fatally shot during a robbery attributed to the group, per NBC News. Four of the six have been executed. Halprin maintained he didn't "intend the death of that officer" and "didn't shoot him."

More than 100 Jewish attorneys in Texas came out in support of a new trial before a stay of execution was granted. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals then sent the case to back to the Dallas County District Court, where Judge Lela Lawrence Mays heard oral arguments in June. A childhood friend of Cunningham told the court that the judge, who last served on the bench in 2005, "took special pride" in the sentencing of the so-called Texas 7 "because they included Latinos and Jews," according to court documents. Others said the judge frequently used derogatory slurs for Black, Hispanic, and Jewish people. On Monday, Mays recommended Halprin receive a new trial, determining Cunningham's "inbred bias" was "too much to ignore." (Read more antisemitism stories.)

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