Republican judge frees defendants after losing job to Democrat

09 November, 2018, 16:37 | Author: Carlos George
  • Houston-area juvenile judge loses election, then ‘wholesale releases’ defendants the next day

Harris County public defender Steven Halpert, who was in court when the string of releases occurred, told the newspaper that Devlin was "releasing everybody". He said it is not unusual for Devlin to release juvenile defendants if they have adequate supervision at home.

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. A Houston Chronicle investigation earlier this year found that Devlin and one other judge in the county, John Phillips, were responsible for more than one in five minors sent to juvenile prisons across all of Texas in 2017. "It was a little bit shocking because that's not a question Judge Devlin would ever ask. He was upset and I guess interpreting what the election results were that voters wanted Democratic judges who were going to release these kids".

Harris County prosecutors expressed concerns after Judge Glenn Devlin made the decision Wednesday in Houston.

Four of the children released were facing aggravated robbery charges, the Chronicle reported.

Devlin, a Republican, lost his re-election Tuesday after Democrats captured the benches in 59 local courts.

Attorney Halpert told the Chronicle that juvenile offenders are entitled to a detention hearing every 10 days to determine whether they should be held in custody. The county's three juvenile court judges who were on the ballot on Tuesday all lost by ten or more points.

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Judge Devlin was not at work on Thursday.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg condemned Devlin's actions, saying it "could endanger the public" and that her office opposes "the wholesale release of violent offenders at any age".

"But nobody has seen this before", he added.

The cases have reportedly been rescheduled for when the new Democrat judges take up their roles in January.

"Judge Devlin appears to be abdicating the basic responsibility of any sitting juvenile judge", said Elizabeth Henneke of the Lone Star Justice Alliance.

"I'm not sure that I can wrap my [mind] around what he's actually doing", Alex Bunin, Harris County's chief public defender said.

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