Published: Fri, November 09, 2018

Texas judge releases defendants after election loss

Texas judge releases defendants after election loss

Halpert said he heard the judge say the easier-than-normal releases today were "what the voters wanted". "Judge Devlin would never normally ask that question of a juvenile".

A judge in Harris County, Texas, released almost all the juvenile defendants who appeared before him Wednesday morning after asking whether they planned to kill anyone.

"Harris County Public Defender Steven Halpert, whose client was among those released by Devlin on Wednesday, said Devlin's defeat appeared to have motivated the releases, which started with him asking the defendants, "'If I release you, will you go out and murder anybody?'".

Judge Devlin was not at work on Thursday.

Devlin did not respond to a request for comment from the local news outlet.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg didn't find Devlin's stunt amusing, however, considering some of the juveniles he released were charged with violent crimes such as aggravated robbery.

Judge Devlin was one of 59 Republican jurists who lost their seats to Democrats on Tuesday, including all three juvenile court judges, the Chronicle reported.

"We oppose the wholesale release of violent offenders at any age", Ogg said in a statement, expressing concern that Devlin's move could "endanger the public".

Juveniles in Texas who are waiting in local detention centers before their cases are resolved are entitled to detention hearings every 10 working days to decide whether they can remain behind bars or be safely released under supervision, according to the Chronicle. He said the court is the first of its kind in Texas and only the second in the U.S.

Devlin was elected to Houston's 313th district court in 2010, according to the court's website. The number of kids sent to state juvenile centers dropped in counties elsewhere in Texas.

A juvenile judge in Houston freed at least seven youngsters brought to his court the day after he lost reelection to a Democrat.

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

"He was releasing everybody", Halpert said Wednesday.

The released defendants will have their cases heard on January 4, when Democratic Judge Natalia Oakes takes over.

"I'm not sure that I can wrap my arms around what he's actually doing", Alex Bunin, Harris County's chief public defender, told the newspaper.

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