Glenn Devlin, Texas judge, releases defendants after election loss

Blanche Robertson
November 9, 2018

There are many that question the judge's decision, including District Attorney Kim Ogg, who said that releasing such defendants "could endanger the public".

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.

Hours after losing his bid for re-election, a Harris County, Texas judge released nearly all the youthful defendants who appeared in front of him, apparently saying it was what voters wanted.

Judge Devlin was not at work on Thursday.

Harris County public defender Steven Halpert, who was in court when the string of releases occurred, told the newspaper that Devlin was "releasing everybody". Associate Judge Stephen Newhouse filled in for him. A follow-up request for comment to his court coordinator was not immediately returned.

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

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.

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

Only one of the juveniles Halpert saw in court was detained, he said.

"I just think this was a post-election weird blip", Halpert told local Houston station ABC 13.

Public defender Steve Halpert quoted Devlin as saying, "This is obviously what the voters wanted", and opined that Devlin, a Republican, meant to imply that Democratic judges are more lenient with accused criminals. "That's the belief. That's not in reality true".

The alleged action by the judge follows Tuesday night's election returns that swept all 59 Republican judges from their benches. With more than eight weeks before his term is up on the bench, will he continue to allow himself to be caught up in the apparent emotions from his defeat?

"I would not have expected that from a professional", Oakes said. "If not, then that might send a message that maybe yesterday (Wednesday) was something out of the ordinary".

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