Area juvenile judge loses election, then ‘wholesale releases’ defendants the next day

Clay Curtis
November 9, 2018

Though public defender Steven Halpert insisted that Devlin is known to free defendants for good behavior, the judge has sent a disproportionate amount of kids to lockup.

At least seven youngsters facing criminal charges in the United States have been released by an outgoing Republican judge who told them they could go free if they promised not to kill anyone.

A day after Judge Glenn Devlin of Houston lost his reelection bid, he released almost all of the juvenile defendants who appeared before him, as long as they answered no when he asked if they planned to kill anyone.

On Judge Devlin's website, he discussed his creation of a Juvenile Gang Court.

A tough Texas judge has released a group of defendants, reportedly saying it was what voters wanted, a day after he lost his re-election bid.

Witnesses said that before releasing the defendants he asked them if they planned to kill anybody.

In a response to questions about the judge's rulings, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement to ABC News that Devlin's actions could "endanger the public".

According to the Houston Chronicle, the defendants face charges ranging from misdemeanours to violent crimes, and prosecutors in court at the time expressed concern at the releases.

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Devlin, a longtime Republican jurist, rescheduled all of the cases for the first week in January, after the Democrat who beat him during Tuesday's election takes the bench.

Devlin declined comment Wednesday when contacted by the Houston Chronicle.

The day after his loss, Devlin released at least 10 juvenile defendants without examining their cases.

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.

Judge Devlin was not at work on Thursday.

"He was releasing everybody", Halpert said Wednesday.

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.

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