HOUSTON (KTRK/CNN) – Voters in Harris County, TX, kicked out a group of Republican judges Tuesday, replacing them with Democrats.
One of those judges released several alleged violent juvenile offenders Wednesday in an apparent protest to the election.
Judge Glenn Devlin, on the bench just hours after being voted out of office – along with all of his Republican colleagues in a midterm sweep by Democrats – allegedly asked several juvenile defendants a question he doesn’t normally ask.
"’If I release you, will you go out and murder anybody?’ And so, if the juvenile said no, they were released," said Steve Halpert, a public defender.
In the end, 10 to 12 juveniles, including Halpert’s client, were released – many of them accused of violent offenses.
Devlin didn’t respond to a request for comment. He also didn’t return to court Thursday, leaving an associate judge to handle his caseload.
In a statement, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said: “We oppose the wholesale release of violent offenders at any age. This could endanger the public.”
Halpert describes Devlin’s decision as being out of character.
Devlin, a judge since 2010, alluded to Tuesday’s election results when releasing the juveniles, according to Halpert.
"I just think this was a post-election, kind of weird blip,” Halpert said. “He made a comment that this is obviously what the voters wanted, and I think the implication there is by electing all Democratic judges, there's this belief that Democratic judges are going to be soft on crime.”