Republican judge frees defendants after losing job to Democrat

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Judge Glenn Devlin, who presides over the 313th District Court, shocked most people in his courtroom on Wednesday morning when he released almost every youthful defendant after asking one question - are you planning to kill anyone? That's when the Democrat who beat him during Tuesday's election will take the bench.

It's unclear how many juveniles were released, but officials said there were at least seven. Associate Judge Stephen Newhouse filled in for him.

Judge Glenn Devlin did this after he remarked that he was acting according to voters' obvious wishes, public defender Steven Halpert told the Houston Chronicle and KTRK. "But nobody has seen this before", Halpert said. According to local news reports, he asked each defendant whether they planned to murder anyone.

"He was releasing everybody", Halpert said Wednesday.


"Judge Devlin's mass release of children today, without any apparent concern for the children's safety or for ensuring that they are released to their parents, proves his detachment from the needs of each child", Director of Political Strategies Sharon Watkins Jones said in a statement.

Devlin and another judge were the subjects of a Houston Chronicle investigation last month. Devlin, a Republican, was among those ousted. But in his detention hearings he usually asks diligent, thorough questions to defense attorneys before deciding to release any defendant. When the defendants said they would not, they were released, to return to court after the January swearing-in of the newly elected judge. "He made a comment, "This is obviously what the voters wanted" and I think there's an implication by electing all Democratic judges, there's this belief that Democratic judges are going to be soft on crime".

"The longtime Republican jurist - whose seat was among 59 swept by Democrats in Tuesday's election - is one of two juvenile court judges in Harris County whose track records favoring incarceration contributed heavily to doubling the number of kids Harris County sent to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department in recent years, even as those figures fell in the rest of the state."

"I just think this was a post-election weird blip", Halpert said, accordinng to KTRK. "If not, then that might send a message that maybe yesterday (Wednesday) was something out of the ordinary".

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