Jewish death row inmate’s appeal claims judge was anti-Semitic

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A Jewish death row inmate in Texas has filed an appeal alleging that the judge in the case was anti-Semitic and racist.

Randy Halprin, 41, said in the appeal filed last month that Judge Vickers Cunningham referred to him using anti-Semitic language and should have recused himself from his case.

Halprin was part of the “Texas 7” group of prisoners who escaped from the John B. Connally Unit near Kenedy, Texas, on Dec. 13, 2000; six were apprehended over a month later. One committed suicide.

They were convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a Texas police officer who responded to a robbery perpetrated by the prisoners.

Cunningham sentenced Halprin to death in 2003. Four of the prisoners have been executed.

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 appeal says that Cunningham’s anti-Semitic beliefs and statements violated the Constitution’s due process requirement, according to the Dallas News, and that Halprin is entitled to a new trial regardless of how strong the evidence is against him.

“Before, during, and after Randy Halprin’s trial, Judge Cunningham harbored deep-seated animus towards and prejudices about non-white, non-Christian people,” Halprin’s attorneys wrote. “He expressed these views frequently in private and they informed his thinking about his public service in the law. Judge Cunningham had a duty not to preside over a case in which he considered the defendant a … ‘[expletive] Jew.’”

Halprin, who was serving a 30-year sentence for injuring a child at the time of his escape, has said he did not fire his gun the night Officer Aubrey Wright Hawkins was shot 11 times and run over.

Another member of the Texas 7, Michael Rodriguez, also was Jewish, according to the newspaper.