100 Lawyers Support Texas 7 Defendant Claim of Biased Judge

Judge's alleged remarks about Jewish defendant during trial cited in appeal

More than 100 Texas lawyers have put their support behind a brief supporting the claim by one of the Texas 7 prison escapees that judge was biased in his capital murder conviction.

Randy Halprin was scheduled for execution Oct. 10 for his part in the Christmas Eve 2000 killing of Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins.

The 29-year-old officer responded to the robbery of an Irving sporting goods store when he was ambushed. Trial evidence showed the escapees stole guns and ammunition from the store.

Halprin is Jewish and the brief says trial judge Vickers Cunningham made biased remarks about Halprin and his religion during the trial.

Dallas attorney Marc Stanley, who does not represent Halprin, signed the brief supporting Halprin's request for a new trial. Over 100 other Jewish lawyers are named in the document.

"I'm guessing he might be guilty. But the truth is, he's never had a trial. When you have a judge that has a prejudgment against you and says horrible things about your religion or your race behind your back, you don't have a fair trial. And all I'm saying is, this guy needs a fair trial," Stanley said.

Cunningham conducted an interview with The Dallas Morning News in May 2018 during an unsuccessful campaign for a seat on the Dallas County Commissioners Court.

In that interview, Cunningham said his children must marry white, Christian spouses to receive their inheritance.

"Halprin's attorneys started doing some investigating and then people came out of the woodwork," Stanley said.

Cunningham's alleged remarks about Jewish people, Latinos and blacks during his time on the bench are cited in Halprin's appeal.

Stanley said lawyers who are not Jewish have told him they wanted to be added to the brief Stanley signed.

"It's not just about Jews. This is how we treat everybody. Everybody is entitled to a fair trial in this country. The worst person you can think of, they still get a fair trial," Stanley said.

Halprin was serving a 30-year sentence for injury to a child when he escaped in 2000.

Cunningham did not return a message Wednesday.

Attorney Toby Shook, one of the prosecutors in Halprin's 2003 murder trial, said he could not comment Wednesday because of the pending litigation.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is considering whether to grant Halprin's request and block his execution.

Irving Police Officer Robert Reeves, a department spokesman, said police trust the justice system to properly handle this case.

"We want the closure. We're ready for the closure for the family. We're ready for closure for the Irving Police Department," Reeves said.

Six of the Texas 7 were captured and convicted after Hawkins' murder. Four have already been executed. One died by suicide instead of returning to prison.

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