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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Texas Judge Urges New Trial for Death Row Inmate, Citing Jurist’s Antisemitic Remarks

A Texas judge this week strongly recommended that a convicted murderer on the death row be allowed a new trial because of the blatant racism and anti-Semitic sentiment he said the trial judge had displayed.

The recommendation, issued Monday by Dallas County Criminal District Court Judge Lela Mays, paves the way for the appeals court to decide whether to order a new trial for the prisoner, said so-called Texas Seven member Randy Halpin. was convicted. and was sentenced to death in 2003 for his role in the murder of a police officer.

Mr Halperin, 44, who is Jewish, was put on hold in 2019 after his lawyers found Vickers Cunningham, the judge overseeing Halpin’s murder trial, continued to use racist language and Jewish language while referring to Mr Halperin. Opposing slurs were used.

Judge Mays said in her recommendation that at the time of Mr Halpin’s trial, Mr Cunningham had “acquired a genuine prejudice against Halpin, because of Halpin’s religious belief.”

“A new, fair trial is the only solution,” she said in the 58-page document, of which more than 10 pages detail Mr Cunningham’s “extensive history of bias and prejudice”.

“Even if Judge Cunningham was not actually biased against Halpin because of the latter’s Jewish identity,” she wrote, “the judge’s statement about protecting Dallas from Jews, anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes” His statements by subscribing, his use of anti-Semitic slurs when referring to Halpin” indicate that “religious and ethnic bigotry tempt him enough to not keep the balance between the state and Halpin good, clear and truthful.” be provided.”

Mr Cunningham, who retired as a Dallas County Criminal District Court judge in 2005, did not respond to an email requesting comment on Wednesday night. He has previously denied the use of racist language and said that his personal views did not influence his decisions in court.

Mr Halpin’s federal public defender Tyvonne Shardl said Judge Mays’ recommendation would now be considered by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Mr Shardall said that while a new trial for Mr Halpin was not guaranteed, Judge Mays’ recommendation was an important step that “relied on indisputable evidence.”

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The Dallas County district attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday night.

It is unclear when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals plans to make the decision. The court did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday night.

Judge Mays’ recommendation was the latest development in court cases involving a group of men who killed a police officer during a string of robberies after escaping from prison in December 2000.

Mr Halpin has always said he did not carry a gun, told a jury at his trial that he did not want to carry a gun and that he was “scared” when others started shooting. His lawyers have said Mr Halpin was at the bottom of the Texas Seven’s hierarchy.

Credit…Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News, via The Associated Press

In the opinion that he released on Monday, Judge Mays cited several instances in which Mr. Cunningham used profanity when referring to Jewish people. Additionally, Judge Mays wrote of a friend of Mr Cunningham’s, Amanda Tackett, who recalled hearing Mr Cunningham calling Mr Halpin a “Jew”. Ms Tackett was instructed by Mr Cunningham to “break up with ‘that Jewish boy’, referring to her then-boyfriend to her daughter.”

Mr Cunningham told The Dallas Morning News in an interview in 2018 that he had set up a living trust for his children that would reward them if they married a white man.

“I strongly support traditional family values,” Mr Cunningham told the newspaper in 2018. “If you marry a person of the opposite sex who is Caucasian, that is, Christian, they will get distribution.”

Judge Mays’ recommendation also included a quote from Ms. Tackett, who worked on Mr. Cunningham’s 2006 campaign for Dallas County District Attorney, in which she recalled her statement that “he wanted to run for office so that May he save Dallas from racial and religious minorities. In the quote, racial and ethnic slurs are used to refer to black people, Latinos, Jewish people, and Catholics.

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