A Texas court ruled that a Jewish death row inmate who was part of a group of prisoners who escaped in 2000, killing a police officer, should receive a new trial due to the previous judge in his case having “antisemitic bias.”
Randy Halprin’s lawyers allege that former Dallas Judge Vickers Cunningham referred to the prisoner and some of his co-defendants using antisemitic and racial slurs, the Associated Press reported.
The 45-year old inmate was part of the “Texas 7,” prisoners who escaped from a South Texas jail in December 2000. On the run, they were responsible for multiple robberies, including an incident in which they fatally shot a 29-year old police officer while robbing a sporting goods store.
Four of the group have already been executed, while Halprin and another member of the gang, Patrick Murphy, remain on death row.
"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 said in a Monday ruling.
She wrote that Cunningham, who retired from his position in 2005, used language referring to Halprin and the other escapees that included racist, homophobic and antisemitic slurs, according to the report.
"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,” the ruling continued.
In October 2019, Halprin was granted a stay of execution by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals after presenting evidence showing that Cunningham was antisemitic.
In May 2019, Halprin said in an appeal that the judge, who sentenced him in 2003, referred to him using antisemitic slurs, including “f****n’ Jew” and “g*****n k**e.”