Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

After Election Loss Texas Judge Randomly Releases Juvenile Defendants

311th District Court Judge Glenn Devlin Texas Judge Releases Nearly All Defendants After Losing Re Election
Deanna Wagner | 09 November, 2018, 10:07

"The voters of Harris County clearly wanted a change in the juvenile courts, and Judge Devlin today is showing us why the voters may have wanted change", said Jay Jenkins, a policy attorney with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.

ABC 13 reporter Jeff Ehling shared Thursday morning that Judge Glenn Devlin was not in court for the day, and that court staff was unable to answer questions about when he might return.

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.

"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?'".

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

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

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The Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has condemned the jurist's actions.

Devlin declined comment to the newspaper. The victory of the #Houston19, as the group of women are called, has obvious local impact: Harris County, which encompasses most of Houston, is the third-largest county in the country, and one of the most diverse.

Devlin was elected to Houston's 313th district court in 2010, according to the court's website.

Last month, an investigation by the newspaper found that Judge Devlin and one other judge had sent to prison more than one fifth of all juveniles locked up a year ago. The number of kids sent to state juvenile centers dropped in counties elsewhere in Texas. It's unclear how many juveniles were released, but officials said there were at least seven, including four facing aggravated robbery charges.

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.

All cases were reset to January 4, shortly after Oakes takes office.