Judge loses reelection, so he sets all the defendants free

Remigio Civitarese
Novembre 9, 2018

He reportedly released nearly every juvenile defendant who appeared before his court Wednesday, after simply asking if they would end up killing anyone.

"Apparently he was saying that's what the voters wanted", Halpert said.

Prosecutors in court voiced their concerns about their seemingly indiscriminate release, with some those facing charges having been accused of violent crimes such as aggravated burglary.

All of the cases came before his court on Wednesday, the day after the mid-term elections, the Houston Chronicle reported. "We oppose the wholesale release of violent offenders at any age", Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement.

"He was releasing everybody", said public defender Steven Halpert.

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 declined comment Wednesday when contacted by the Houston Chronicle.

"The juveniles were asked whether they were going to, if released, whether they would kill somebody", Halpert said.

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

"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.

"It's a huge change and the only thing that has happened is that he was not elected so I don't know what to attribute it to other than that", he said. By contrast, his reputation names him as one of two judges who most contributed to doubling the number of juveniles remanded to custody in recent years.

All cases were reset to January 4, shortly after Oakes takes office. Halpert told the Chronicle it's not abnormal for Devlin to release juveniles facing serious charges if they are behaving in detention and have adequate supervision at home.

The ACLU of Houston is calling for an investigation by the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct, saying that mass release, without treating defendants as individuals, is not the goal, and alleging that he failed to ensure that defendants were released safely to their parents, and describing the release as a spiteful response to a political loss.

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