Skip To Content
Fast Forward

Jewish Groups Back Death Row Inmate Who Says His Judge Was Anti-Semitic

(JTA) — A number of Jewish groups and lawyers are urging the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to stay the scheduled execution of a Jewish inmate who said his judge was anti-Semitic.

In July, Dallas County Judge Lela Mays approved an Oct. 10 execution date for Randy Halprin, who was part of the “Texas 7” group of prisoners who escaped from a prison in the state in 2000. They were convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a police officer who responded to a robbery they committed. Four of them already have been executed.

But Halprin, 41, said in an appeal in May that the judge who sentenced him in 2003, Vickers Cunningham, referred to him using anti-Semitic language. He wants a new trial.

“Mr. Halprin’s trial judge, who presided over the death-penalty trial, made critical decisions about what evidence the jury would hear, and sentenced Mr. Halprin to die, was biased against Mr. Halprin, referring to him as a “f——n’ Jew” and a “G——n k—e,” Halprin’s attorney, Tivon Schardl, said in a statement.

Last year, The Dallas Morning News reported that Cunningham set up a trust in 2010 to give his children money if they marry a white Christian of the opposite sex.

On Thursday, the American Jewish Committee, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Men of Reform Judaism and Union for Reform Judaism filed an amicus brief in support of his appeal. More than 100 Jewish Texas lawyers signed on to the brief.

The brief said the issue at stake was not whether Halprin was guilty or not.

“[T]hose issues are irrelevant, because questions of guilt and punishment follow a fair trial; they do not precede it,” it reads. “And if Judge Cunningham is the bigot described in the application, a fair trial has not yet happened.”

The groups call for the court to “stay the applicant’s scheduled execution, and remand this case to the trial court for findings of fact and conclusions of law.”

In June, the Anti-Defamation League filed an amicus brief in support of Halprin’s petition.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.