(October 15, 2021 / JNS) 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.
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.”
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