Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Harris County juvenile judge releases defendants after election loss

Court in Houston Texas Google Maps Street View Harris County Juvenile Court in Houston Texas
Jeannette Daniel | 09 November, 2018, 06:11

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.

Public defenders said he complained "that's what the voters want" as he indiscriminately freed people.

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.

All of the cases came before his court on Wednesday, the day after the mid-term elections, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The cases have reportedly been rescheduled for when the new Democrat judges take up their roles in January. "It was a little bit shocking because that's not a question Judge Devlin would ever ask".

Devlin has a reputation for sending children to detention, and together with another justice, is responsible for a full fifth of youngsters sitting behind bars awaiting trial.

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

Harris County prosecutors expressed concerns after Judge Glenn Devlin made the decision in Houston.

Devlin declined comment to the newspaper.

More news: Head on collision between 2 buses kills 47 in Zimbabwe

"We oppose the wholesale release of violent offenders at any age", Ogg said.

The stories differ on the number of juveniles released.

At least seven youngsters facing criminal charges in the USA have been released by an outgoing Republican judge who told them they could go free if they promised not to kill anyone. "But nobody has seen this before", Halpert said.

According to ABC, only one defendant Devlin saw on Wednesday was kept in custody.

"I'm not sure that I can wrap my arms around what he's actually doing", he told the Chronicle.

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

Devlin and another Harris County juvenile judge, John Phillips, accounted for more than 20 percent of all youths sent to the state's juvenile prisons a year ago, according to the newspaper.

"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 other than that", he said.

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