Texas Judge Releases Nearly All Defendants After Losing Re-Election

Houston-area juvenile judge loses election then ‘wholesale releases’ defendants the next day

Hours after losing his bid for re-election, a Harris County, Texas judge released nearly all the youthful defendants who appeared in front of him, apparently saying it was what voters wanted. The public defender said he believed the judge thought "that's what the voters wanted".

The youths were facing a range of charges but at least four of them were facing serious accusations of aggravated robbery.

Judge Devlin also rescheduled all of the cases to be heard during the first week of January, which is when Democrat Natalia Oakes will take the bench.

Devlin has a reputation for sending children to detention, and together with another justice, is responsible for a full fifth of youngsters sitting behind bars awaiting trial.

Public defender Steven Halpert said it is not uncommon for Devlin to release a juvenile who has already been in detention upon review, but has never seen anything like what happened on Wednesday.

Before Harris County Juvenile Court Judge Glenn Devlin released seven defendants - accounting for almost all of the kids who appeared in front of him the morning after Election Day - he asked if they planned to kill anyone before he released them, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Devlin on Wednesday declined to comment in the Chronicle's story.

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Prosecutors voiced their concerns over releasing offenders accused of everything from low-level misdemeanors to violent crimes.

"The juveniles were asked whether they were going to, if released, whether they would kill somebody", Halpert said. The number of kids sent to state juvenile centers dropped in counties elsewhere in Texas. He said it is not unusual for Devlin to release juvenile defendants if they have adequate supervision at home.

Halpert said that he only saw one defendant detained.

Last month, the newspaper reported that he and another Republican judge on the circuit accounted for more than 20% of all the children sent to Texan juvenile prisons in 2017 - even though the overall numbers were down.

Devlin was one of 59 Republican judges caught up in a Democratic sweep in Harris County on Election Day.

"I'm not sure that I can wrap my arms around what he's actually doing", he told the Chronicle.

"I would not have expected that from a professional", Oakes said.

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