Judge Releases Defendants After Losing Re-Election, Asking If They'd Kill Anyone


The Republican judge based in Harris County lost the 313th District Court seat to Democrat Natalia Oakes, according to the county's unofficial election results page. Numerous juveniles who were released were accused of violent crimes. Four were facing aggravated robbery charges.

A day after losing his re-election bid, a Texas judge released almost all of the juvenile defendants who appeared before him after asking them whether they meant to kill anyone.

Judge Glenn Devlin is seen in this undated photo.

Harris County public defender Steven Halpert, who was in court when the string of releases occurred, told the newspaper that Devlin was "releasing everybody".

Halpert, a Democrat, said Devlin, a Republican, is known to be diligent and thorough - usually running a tight docket.

Harris County Juvenile Court Judge Glenn Devlin released several defendants on Wednesday, reportedly reasoning that this was what the voters wanted after he lost his re-election battle.

"We oppose the wholesale release of violent offenders at any age; this could endanger the public", Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said.

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Devlin's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 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. A Houston Chronicle investigation earlier this year found that Devlin and one other judge in the county, John Phillips, were responsible for more than one in five minors sent to juvenile prisons across all of Texas in 2017.

By law, youths who are waiting behind bars before their cases are resolved are entitled to detention hearings every 10 days to decide whether they can be released under supervision.

"According to USA Today, Judge Devlin asked at least seven juvenile defendants brought before him on Wednesday, "'If I release you, will you go out and murder anybody?".

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

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

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