Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

Texas Judge Releases Nearly All Defendants After Losing Re-Election

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Melinda Barton | 09 November, 2018, 16:33

"I think this was a post-election weird blip", said public defender Steve Halpert, according to KTRK-TV.

"Judge Devlin's mass release of children today, without any apparent concern for the children's safety or for ensuring that they are released to their parents, proves his detachment from the needs of each child", Director of Political Strategies Sharon Watkins Jones said in a statement.

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. The newspaper found that the two judges accounted for more than a fifth of youths sent to juvenile prisons in Texas past year. "It was a little bit shocking because that's not a question Judge Devlin would ever ask". "Apparently he was saying that's what the voters wanted".

Devlin's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a statement, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said: "We oppose the wholesale release of violent offenders at any age".

Four of the juveniles released to leave the detention center pending their trials were in custody for Aggravated Robbery. He and fellow Harris County judge John Phillips are responsible for a fifth of all minors in Texas juvenile prisons.

Devlin, one of the 59 Republican jurists in Harris County who was replaced by Democrats, allegedly said: "This is obviously what the voters wanted", when he released juveniles who have been charged with a wide range of crimes, according to ABC 10.

On Thursday, Devlin was a no-show in court.

Halpert said that he only saw one defendant detained.

Perhaps supporting that suspected motivation, Devlin reportedly reset all of his released defendants' cases for January 4, which is when his Democratic replacement, Natalia Oakes, takes over.

Harris County Chief Public Defender Alex Bunin told the newspaper that he could not wrap his "arms around what [Devlin's] actually doing", adding, "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", Bunin said.