Jewish death-row inmate wins new trial in Texas, citing judge’s anti-Semitic slurs

October 17, 2021 by JNS
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A Dallas County judge ordered that Jewish death-row inmate Randy Halprin should get a new trial after considering evidence that the judge who presided over his case was biased against Jews.

Randy Halprin

Halprin, 44, claimed that former Dallas County judge Vickers Cunningham made anti-Semitic remarks towards him and often used racial slurs when presiding over his 2003 murder trial.

Days before he was set to receive a lethal injection on Oct. 10, 2019, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Halprin a delay of execution. The decision was sent back to Dallas County, and Judge Lela Lawrence Mays ruled on Monday that Halprin will be granted a new trial after hearing his accusations in June.

“Judge Vickers Cunningham possessed anti-Semitic prejudice against Halprin, which violated Halprin’s constitutional right to a trial in a fair tribunal equal protection and free exercise of religion,” explained Mays.

One of Halprin’s attorneys, Tivon Schardl, said: “A fair trial requires an impartial judge—and Mr. Halprin did not have a fair and neutral judge when his life was at stake.”

Halprin was serving 30 years for harming a child when he and six other inmates, known as the “Texas 7,” escaped a South Texas prison and committed a series of robberies, including one in which a police officer was killed. The seven criminals were captured near Colorado Springs after a nationwide search and all of Halprin’s co-conspirators were sentenced to death.

The American Jewish Committee, which had filed an amicus brief in September 2019 in support of Halprin’s petition to stay his execution and order a new trial, welcomed the decision by a Texas Judge.

“The court reached the only possible result—that the original judge’s uncontested and undisguised bigotry made it essential that Randy Halprin be granted a new trial,” said AJC chief legal officer Marc Stern. “The district court’s recommendation that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals order a new trial is a vindication of core American principles of impartiality in American jurisprudence.”

JNS

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