'Will you murder anybody?': Texas judge releases juveniles after election loss

Houston-area juvenile judge loses election, then ‘wholesale releases’ defendants the next day

Public Defender Steve Halpert told ABC 13 that when Judge Devlin took the bench on Wednesday, he asked the juvenile defendants before him: "If I release you, will you go out and murder anybody?". He said it is not unusual for Devlin to release juvenile defendants if they have adequate supervision at home.

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

According to a report last month by the Chronicle, Devlin and fellow judge John Philips have a heavy track record of incarcerating juvenile defendants in their county and were behind more than one-fifth of the juveniles sent to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department in recent years. At least four of the minors faced serious charges.

"Judge Devlin was intent on asking my juvenile the same question that was asked. He was upset and I guess interpreting what the election results were that voters wanted Democratic judges who were going to release these kids".

Harris County prosecutors expressed concerns after Judge Glenn Devlin made the decision in a Houston courtroom Wednesday morning. The juveniles face charges ranging from misdemeanors to violent crimes, the Houston Chronicle reported.

"This could endanger the public", Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a written statement.

Democrats swept the benches the night before in 59 local Texas courts, according to the Chronicle.

Devlin and two other county judges lost to Democrats on Election Day, and Devlin apparently wanted to make a statement to spite those who voted him out.

On Thursday, Devlin was a no-show in court.

"If the juvenile said 'no, ' they were released", Mr Halpert said.

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.

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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