Jewish loss of life row inmate ought to get new trial resulting from


A Jewish loss of life row inmate who was a part of a gang of prisoners who fatally shot a police officer in 2000 after that they had escaped ought to have his conviction overturned and get a brand new trial as a result of the choose who presided over his case “harbored antisemitic bias,” in response to a court docket ruling.

Lawyers for Randy Halprin have contended that former Judge Vickers Cunningham in Dallas used racial slurs and antisemitic language to check with the inmate and a few of his codefendants.

Randy Halprin
Death row inmate Randy Halprin in a visitation cell on the Polunsky Unit on Dec. 3, 2003, in Livingston, Texas. Halprin sits on loss of life row for his half within the capturing loss of life of an Irving, Texas, police officer whereas he and 6 different escaped inmates, dubbed the “Texas 7,” have been robbing a sporting good retailer within the Dallas suburb. 

AP Photo/Brett Coomer

Halprin, 45, was among the many group of inmates referred to as the “Texas 7,” who escaped from a South Texas jail in December 2000 after which dedicated quite a few robberies, together with the one wherein they shot 29-year-old Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins 11 occasions, killing him, throughout the theft of a sporting items retailer.

Of the seven inmates who escaped, one killed himself earlier than the group was arrested. Four have been executed, whereas Halprin and one other, Patrick Murphy, await execution.  

“Cunningham not only harbored antisemitic bias at the time of trial, but … he did not or could not curb the influence of that bias in his judicial decision-making,” state District Judge Lela Mays wrote in a ruling issued late Monday evening from Dallas.

Mays wrote that Cunningham used racist, homophobic and antisemitic slurs to check with Halprin and the opposite escaped inmates tried in his court docket.

“As a judge with the power to influence the trials, Judge Cunningham’s use of these terms to refer to the co-defendants was racist because it combined the attribution of group characteristics with the exercise of power over them.”

Cunningham stepped down from the bench in 2005 and is now an legal professional in non-public follow in Dallas. His workplace mentioned Tuesday he wouldn’t be commenting on Halprin’s case.

Halprin’s case shall be forwarded to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which can make the ultimate determination on whether or not his conviction is overturned, and if he will get a brand new trial. The appeals court docket had halted Halprin’s execution in 2019.

“The Constitution allows only one remedy in cases of judicial bias, and that is to vacate the biased court’s judgment and start over with the chance at a fair trial before an unbiased judge. We are confident the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will follow the law, accept the State’s concessions, and adopt the trial court’s recommendations,” Tivon Schardl, one in every of Halprin’s attorneys, mentioned in an announcement Tuesday.

In April of 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case. At the time, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the information Halprin introduced are “deeply disturbing,” however she nonetheless agreed with the choice to not hear his case. 

In October 2021, Mays had discovered that Cunningham had violated Halprin’s proper to a good trial and really helpful overturning his loss of life sentence. But the appeals court docket in May had ordered an evidentiary listening to to be held earlier than it might take into account the case.

Mays’ determination on Monday comes after a three-day trial in August in Dallas wherein a number of witnesses, together with Cunningham’s brother and two lifelong household pals, testified that the previous choose had continuously used express antisemitic and racial slurs earlier than and after Halprin’s 2003 trial in reference to him and a number of other of the opposite escaped inmates.

The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office had been appointed to deal with authorized points associated to Halprin’s allegations after the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, was disqualified from collaborating.

In September, Tarrant County prosecutors filed court docket paperwork wherein they mentioned Halprin ought to get a brand new trial as a result of Cunningham confirmed “actual bias” towards the inmate.

Cunningham has denied allegations of racial bigotry after telling the Dallas Morning News in 2018 he has a residing belief that rewards his youngsters for marrying straight, white Christians. He had opposed interracial marriages however later informed the newspaper that his views on such marriages have advanced. In her ruling, Mays described Cunningham’s views as “the avowal” of a white Christian nationalist ideology.


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