Harris County juvenile judge releases defendants after election loss

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

The public defender said he believed the judge thought "that's what the voters wanted". "It was a little bit shocking because that's not a question Judge Devlin would ever ask". Prosecutors told the Chronicle that at least seven youths were released, including four accused of aggravated robbery.

Before Harris County Juvenile Court Judge Glenn Devlin released seven defendants - accounting for almost all of the kids who appeared in front of him the morning after Election Day - he asked if they planned to kill anyone before he released them, the Houston Chronicle reported.

"(Judge Glenn Devlin) was releasing everybody", public defender Steven Halpert said, according to the newspaper.

Judge Devlin was not at work on Thursday. "We oppose the wholesale release of violent offenders at any age", Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement.

Devlin did not respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Devlin, a longtime Republican jurist who has been a presiding judge in the 313th District Court since 2010, was one of dozens of Republicans who had their seats snatched by a Democrat in the state in Tuesday's midterm election. 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. By contrast, his reputation names him as one of two judges who most contributed to doubling the number of juveniles remanded to custody in recent years.

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

"The voters of Harris County clearly wanted a change in the juvenile courts and Judge Devlin today is showing us why the voters may have wanted change", he said.

"But nobody has seen this before", he added.

Judge Devlin has allowed prisoners to go free under such circumstances before, but those in court on Wednesday were not expected to be released and their parents were not even present to take them home.

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

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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