Sentencing judge accused of being anti-Semitic
Wire and Staff Report
A Jewish death row inmate in Texas who says his judge was anti-Semitic was granted a stay of execution by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
The stay order was issued Friday, Oct. 4.
Randy Halprin, 41, had been set to be executed Oct. 10. He was part of the “Texas 7” group of prisoners who escaped from the John B. Connally Unit near Kenedy in 2000 and were convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a police officer who responded to a robbery they committed at an Oshman’s Sporting Goods store on Christmas Eve. Four of them have already been executed.
In May, Halprin said in an appeal that the judge who sentenced him in 2003, Vickers Cunningham, referred to him using anti-Semitic slurs, including “f*n’ Jew” and “gn ke.”
The Dallas Morning News reported last year that Cunningham, who is white, rewarded his children with a trust if they married someone who is white, Christian and of the opposite sex.
The court denied Halprin’s appeal last month.
On Thursday, Halprin appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, a Dallas County trial court will determine if the claims against Cunningham warrant a new trial for Halprin.
At the time of his escape, Halprin was serving a 30-year prison term for beating and injuring a child. He does not deny being at the scene when police officer Aubrey Hawkins was murdered in December 2000, but says he did not fire his gun.
Members from the Jewish community and other faith groups have pressed for a new trial for Halprin, 41, who appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court Friday.
Dallas attorneys Stuart Blaugrand and Marc Stanley filed a 13-page brief with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals last month. The brief was signed by AJC, more than 100 Texas Jewish lawyers, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and Men of Reform Judaism.
The AJC Dallas Office was instrumental in securing the signatures from the Jewish attorneys across the state.
“I was so proud of the 108 Texas Jewish lawyers who — along with the American Jewish Committee, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and Men of Reform Judaism — stood up against this injustice. The caliber of this group helped raise the urgency and visibility of Halprin’s appeal,” said Stanley.
“This case demonstrates the importance of AJC’s work in confronting anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry in order to safeguard our freedoms and ensure equal justice for all,” said Blaugrand, who is also a Dallas AJC board member. “I feel privileged to have joined with so many distinguished colleagues in helping Randy Halprin secure a hearing to prove judicial bias resulted in the denial of his due process rights because a trial conducted before a racist judge who boasts of his bigotry is no trial at all. If Vickers Cunningham is a racist as alleged, Randy must receive a new trial presided over by an impartial judge.”
Before Friday’s ruling, Marc Rylander, director of communications for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, told JNS, “It is our policy never to comment on litigation strategy in an ongoing matter, particularly a criminal case. Our office has filed publicly available documents with the relevant courts detailing at length why the sentence the jury imposed in this case was lawful and appropriate, so we will let those filings speak for themselves.”