Texas juvenile judge frees most defendants after losing re-election to Democrat

Elias Hubbard
November 9, 2018

A Texas judge released the majority of youthful defendants by only asking them if they planned to not kill anyone before letting them go, reportedThe Houston Chronicle.

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. Seven were released, including four facing charges of aggravated robbery, officials told the paper.

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

Devlin asked each of the defendants whether they planned to kill anyone upon their release, the Chronicle reported, then released them until a rescheduled January 4 court date - the day Oakes takes over the 313th District Court. There are many that question the judge's decision, including District Attorney Kim Ogg, who said that releasing such defendants "could endanger the public".

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. Though public defender Steven Halpert insisted that Devlin is known to free defendants for good behavior, the judge has sent a disproportionate amount of kids to lockup.

Devlin on Wednesday declined to comment in the Chronicle's story.

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

All three judges were defeated in a Democratic sweep of 59 Harris County judicial seats. The newspaper found that the two judges accounted for more than a fifth of youths sent to juvenile prisons in Texas a year ago.

"I think he may have to be consistent and continue this practice", Halpert said.

"It is improper for a judge to make orders motivated by partisan interests or in spite as a result of his political loss", Sharon Jones of the ACLU said, according to KTRK.

They called for the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct to look into him for violations of the canons of judicial conduct.

One attorney, while waiting to find out who would oversee Devlin's cases on Thursday, reportedly told Blakinger that they weren't in court when the incident happened, "but I sure wish I was".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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