Saturday, December 17, 2022

Randy Halprin: Death Row;Texas: Major (Welcome) Development. A judicial finding that Randy Halprin was sentenced to death by a bigoted judge because he is Jewish, and that he is therefore entitled to have his conviction struck and a new trial (a fair one this time!) held..Why was Judge Cunningham's behaviour - apart from the spectre of Cunningham's raw, undisguised, ugly bias on the bench- when in fact Halprin had a legal argument against imposition of the death penalty - so cruel? As Reporter Ramneet Singh reported in The Davis Vanguard: "In the June 2003 trial, based on the circumstances around the police officer’s death “and that no mitigating circumstances warranted that a sentence of life imprisonment be imposed rather than the death sentence, Judge Cunningham sentenced applicant to death,” detailed Halprin’s counsel. However, Halprin claimed “members of the group other than Mr. Halprin shot and killed police officer Aubrey Hawkins.”

PASSAGE OF THE DAY: From Judge Lela L. May's decision recommending overturning of Randy Halprin's conviction:  (Read this and weep - and perhaps wonder how Cunningham ever got appointed to the bench - and whether any of his other rulings  have been reviewed in the light of what we now know about him. HL);

"Statements Judge Cunningham made before, during, and after Applicant’s

trial proceedings, when considered either independently or in the context of the

surrounding circumstances, overwhelmingly show actual bias. That evidence

consisted of the following: (a) Judge Cunningham’s lifelong animus towards Jews

and people of color, and the actions he took based on that animus; (b) Judge Cun-

ningham’s repeated references to Applicant be a Jew and to his codefendants’

ethnicity; (c) Judge Cunningham’s pretrial statement that he would “get” Applicant

and his codefendants the death penalty; (d) Judge Cunningham’s posttrial state-

ments that he was appointed to “insure” convictions and death sentences for the

Texas 7, and; (e) Judge Cunningham’s efforts to persuade voters that he should

get credit for and be rewarded for those convictions and death sentences.

Although the percipient witness testimony on any one of these points would

have been sufficient to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Applicant

was denied a fair trial, Applicant also presented persuasive expert testimony. Ap-

plicant’s experts showed the following: (a) Viewed in the context of his community,

Judge Cunningham’s anti-Semitic feelings were so strong that he expressed big-

otry towards even the most respected Jews in Dallas society. This showed, con-

trary to the State’s arguments, that Judge Cunningham’s use of anti-Semitic slurs

when speaking about Applicant was part of a pattern of demeaning others based

on who they were, not what they did. (b) Judge Cunningham’s anti-Semitism was

not merely a personal animus, but part of a worldview rooted in a theology he

embraced early in life and a political agenda akin to the racist agenda of the Ku

Klux Klan. (c) Judge Cunningham’s explicit biases against Jews, Blacks, and Lati-

nos reflected his extreme implicit biases. Although a judge may be able to over-

come his implicit biases with effort, Judge Cunningham’s statements about Jews,

Latinos, and Blacks showed he lacked both the desire and ability to curb his biases

when he was on the bench."


STORY: "Dallas County District Court decides judge's anti-Semitic bias marred 2003 trial that resulted in death sentence," The Davis Vanguard (Reporter Ramneet Singh) reports, on December 16, 2022.

GIST: "The District Court for the 283rd District, Dallas County, has decided there was enough evidence of Judge Vickers Cunningham’s “anti-Semitism” in Randy Halprin’s 2003 trial and “recommended” Halprin’s death sentence should be discarded, moving the case to the to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  

In a press statement by Halprin’s lawyers, it noted Judge Lela L. May’s determination of that bias in Oct. 2021, which led to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals asking “the District Court to conduct a live evidentiary hearing” in May 2022. 

The hearing occurred from August 29-31. Halprin’s lawyers wrote, “Mr. Halprin’s claim that Judge Cunningham harbored racial and ethnic animus and bias against Mr. Halprin because he is Jewish.” The District Court’s opinion stated that he claimed this violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. 

The State’s post-hearing documents included a list of Halprin’s alleged criminal activity from December 2000. Among other things, this involved escaping from Connally Prison Unit with others, including robbery, and the shooting of a police officer.

That list noted the New York Times referred to this group as “‘the Texas 7.’”

In the June 2003 trial, based on the circumstances around the police officer’s death “and that no mitigating circumstances warranted that a sentence of life imprisonment be imposed rather than the death sentence, Judge Cunningham sentenced applicant to death,” detailed Halprin’s counsel.

However, Halprin claimed “members of the group other than Mr. Halprin shot and killed police officer Aubrey Hawkins.”

Following changes in judges, “the trial court ultimately adopted the State’s proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law and recommended that the relief Halprin sought (including automatic appeals) be denied.” 

That section also highlighted his attempts through the federal court system. After the setting of his execution date, “Halprin then filed the current application with this Court on July 16, 2019 and sought a stay of execution from the CCA on August 22, 2019.”

Despite opposition from Halprin’s side, Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office would represent the state in the current matter. In September of 2022, the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office determined the court should grant the relief. 

Halprin’s documents included specific instances of the bias. One example notes, “Judge Cunningham referred to the Texas 7 defendants he would try as ‘the Mexican, the queer, and the Jew.’”

Concerning expert testimony, “Although Dr. (Bryan) Stone explained that one could use ‘the Jew’ in a way that is not derogatory or pejorative, 3 WRR 33, an innocuous interpretation of Judge Cunningham’s use of the phrase is inconsistent with the overwhelming weight of the evidence.”

The defense press release cites a 2018 Dallas Morning News report on Cunningham’s racism, including information from a campaign aide in the judge’s county district attorney run. 

More specifically, those who came out after this story “told Judge Mays that Judge Cunningham called Mr. Halprin a ‘god**m k**e,’ and, when speaking about his work on the Texas 7 case, bragged that the ‘w*****ks and the Jew knew they were going to die’ with him on the bench.” 

The order states that “this Court finds, concludes, and recommends that the relief sought in Applicant’s Subsequent Application for Writ of Habeas Corpus be GRANTED.” This document is signed by Judge Mays Dec. 12 of this year.

After the District Court’s decision, attorney Tivon Schardl stated that “‘the State acknowledges that the Constitution allows only one remedy in cases of judicial bias, and that is to vacate the biased court’s judgment and start over with the chance at a fair trial before an unbiased judge.’”

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  I am monitoring this case/issue/resurce. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic"  section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to:  Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;


FINAL WORD:  (Applicable to all of our wrongful conviction cases):  "Whenever there is a wrongful conviction, it exposes errors in our criminal legal system, and we hope that this case — and lessons from it — can prevent future injustices."

Lawyer Radha Natarajan:

Executive Director: New England Innocence Project;


FINAL, FINAL WORD: "Since its inception, the Innocence Project has pushed the criminal legal system to confront and correct the laws and policies that cause and contribute to wrongful convictions.   They never shied away from the hard cases — the ones involving eyewitness identifications, confessions, and bite marks. Instead, in the course of presenting scientific evidence of innocence, they've exposed the unreliability of evidence that was, for centuries, deemed untouchable." So true!

Christina Swarns: Executive Director: The Innocence Project;