Outrage over judge's decision to release defendants after losing re-election

There is outrage over a judge's decision to release juveniles assigned to his courtroom the day after losing re-election. The juvenile court manager says this is not a big deal.

Juvenile Court Manager Cindy Milom says Judge Glenn Devlin had 32 juveniles on his docket yesterday. She says 13 of them were in custody and seven were released.  Milom said although she could not produce proof at a moment's notice, this is routine and happens every day in a juvenile court room.

Average or not, the ACLU is asking the state to look into claims Judge Glenn Devlin released all but one inmate.

What exactly happened inside the 313th Harris County Juvenile courtroom the day after Judge Glenn Devlin and 58 other Republican judges lost in the election?

“When I arrived there was already word that kids were being released,” says Steven Halpert, Chief of the Juvenile Division for the Harris County Public Defender’s Office. Halpert says in 15 years he’s never seen Judge Devlin ask a juvenile who was in custody, “if he was to be released would he kill anybody?”

Halpert says he heard the judge ask that at least twice, including to his client.

He says typically there’s a lot of discussion about why the juvenile should not remain in custody, but not this time.

“Judge Devlin was intent on asking my juvenile the same question that was asked. And that was, ‘If I release you will you kill anybody.’  And of course my juvenile said ‘no’ and he said ‘released’,” Halbert says. “He made a comment ‘this is what the voters wanted’.  He was upset and I guess interpreting what the election results were that voters wanted Democratic judges who were going to release these kids.”

Four of the juveniles released to leave the detention center pending their trials were in custody for Aggravated Robbery.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg released a statement saying, “We oppose the wholesale release of violent offenders at any age; this could endanger the public.”

“Of course, it’s dangerous,” says Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Every case has to be adjudicated or assessed individually. You can’t just say ‘OK today everybody is set free.” 

If the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct does agree to investigate these claims against Judge Devlin, we won’t know about it because the commission does not release that information. They will only release if a judge is punished.