Jewish death-row inmate claims judge who sentenced him was racist and anti-Semitic
A Jewish inmate sentenced to death for the murder of a police officer contends he deserves a new trial because the Texas judge who sentenced him used anti-Semitic and racist language outside of court.
The judge had a duty to recuse himself, and his failure to do so was a violation of the Constitution’s due process requirement for a fair trial, according to Halprin’s May 17 habeas petition.
Cunningham denied the allegations in a statement to the Dallas Morning News. “The fabrications contained in the writ are more of the same lies from my estranged brother and his friends,” Cunningham said. Cunnigham’s brother is married to a black man, and Cunningham said he has not been in contact with him since his father’s funeral.
Cunningham did acknowledge last year that he set up a trust that rewarded his children if they married a white, Christian person of the opposite sex.
Halprin’s lawyers allege in the habeas petition that Cunningham “harbored deep-seated animus towards and prejudices about non-white, non-Christian people. He expressed these views frequently in private and they informed his thinking about his public service in the law.”
The petition cites information from a childhood friend who said Cunningham didn’t like anyone who wasn’t his same race, religion or creed. He called his brother, Bill, “[N-word] Bill,” to express his disapproval, and often used offensive language to describe blacks and Hispanics. He also referred to “[expletive] Jews” and used a derogatory word to refer to Jewish people, the friend said.
Cunningham resigned his judgeship to run for Dallas district attorney but did not win the primary. He allegedly told a campaign worker, a friend of Cunningham’s brother, that he wanted to save Dallas from minorities, the petition says.
Halprin was a member of the so-called Texas Seven who escaped from prison in December 2000. He contends he never pulled the trigger when the officer was killed following the escapees’ holdup of a sporting goods store. He was still found criminally responsible under Texas’ law of parties, which deems conspirators to be criminally responsible for the actions of other conspirators.
The campaign worker alleged that Cunningham used epithets to refer to members of the Texas Seven.
Halprin originally went to prison for beating a 16-month-old child, breaking his arms and legs and fracturing his skull.