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techkenyot.com May 20, 2019


Area juvenile judge loses election, then ‘wholesale releases’ defendants the next day

09 November 2018, 10:10 | Glen Norman

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Court in Houston Texas

Harris County Juvenile Court Judge Glenn Devlin lost his re-election bid to Natalia Oakes as Democrats swept the county's juvenile judicial offices.

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. At least four of the minors faced serious charges.

A Texas judge reportedly released almost all of his juvenile defendants after losing his re-election on Tuesday, but not before asking if they planned to kill anyone.

Judge Devlin was not at work on Thursday.

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

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. Halpert said he heard the judge say the easier-than-normal releases today were "what the voters wanted".

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

Devlin did not respond to ABC News' request for comment. He said the court is the first of its kind in Texas and only the second in the U.S.

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Law says that youth defendants are entitled to a detention hearing every 10 days, the Chronicle reported.

Devlin was elected to Houston's 313th district court in 2010, according to the court's website. He had earned a reputation as a judge who favors incarceration-the number of kids sent to juvenile detention doubled in recent years, despite falling elsewhere in Texas, according to The Chronicle. Once the defendants answered "no", Devlin released them.

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.

According to Halpert, Devlin asked each defendant "If I release you, will you go out and murder anybody?".

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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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