Convicted Murderer Should Get Sentence Overturned Because His Judge Was Racist, Court Rules

(Photo by CECILE CLOCHERET/AFP via Getty Ima

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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Texas District Judge Lela Mays ruled Monday that Randy Halprin, an inmate on death row for the death of a police officer, should have his death penalty conviction overturned after claims that the judge who presided over his trial was racist and antisemitic.

Halprin, who is Jewish, was convicted and given the death penalty for the death of a police officer during a month-long prison escape with six other prisoners, dubbed the Texas Seven, in 2000, according to CBS News. In the years following his conviction, concerns were raised about former Judge Vickers Cunningham who allegedly made racist, antisemitic and homophobic remarks when referring to Halprin and his co-defendants during and after the trial.

“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,” Mays wrote in her opinion, according to CBS News. “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 reportedly called Halprin a “fucking Jew” and a “goddamn kike” after his conviction, according to the Texas Tribune. Cunningham stepped down from his position as a federal judge in 2005 and currently practices law in Texas. (RELATED: Alabama Pauses Executions After Third Botched Lethal Injection Since 2018)

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 2: This composite of images taken 02 January 2001 from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Internet site shows seven prisoners who escaped 13 December 2000 from a Texas maximum-security prison in Kenedy, Texas, about 60 miles southeast of San Antonio. The fugitives (top L-R) Joseph Garcia, Donald Newbury, George Rivas, Larry Harper, (bottom L-R) Patrick Murphy, Jr., Randy Halprin, and Michael Rodriguez had been serving sentences ranging from 30 years to life and allegedly escaped by posing as prison workers. The men are also wanted in connection with a Christmas Eve robbery of a Dallas-area sporting goods store in which a policeman was shot and killed. (TDCJ/AFP via Getty Images)

Cunningham admitted in 2018 to reward his kids in his will if they married straight, white Christians, according to The Dallas Morning News. Cunningham was running for Dallas County commissioner at the time and lost in the primary by 25 votes.

Halprin was scheduled to be executed in 2019 but the sentence was temporarily stayed after Cunningham’s comments surfaced, according to the Texas Tribune. Currently, Halprin’s sentence is awaiting review by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, according to CBS News.

“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’s attorney Tivon Schardl said in a statement, according to the Texas Tribune. “We are very grateful the CCA has given Mr. Halprin the opportunity to seek a new trial, free of religious discrimination.”

Halprin, Mays and Cunningham did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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