A Texas judge lost his re-election bid to a Democrat, so he released nearly every juvenile defendant who appeared in front of him for a detention hearing.
Harris County prosecutors expressed concerns after Judge Glenn Devlin made the decision in Houston.
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 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", said Jay Jenkins, a policy attorney with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.
"He was releasing everybody", public defender Steven Halpert told the Houston Chronicle.
"I just think this was a post-election weird blip".
The cases will be heard again on 4 January, when Judge Devlin's replacement, Natalia Oakes, takes the bench. And that was, "If I release you will you kill anybody.' And of course my juvenile said "no" and he said "released", Halbert says.More news: CNN journalist Jim Acosta’s White House access revoked after spat with Trump
I would not have expected that from a professional.
Harris County almost doubled the number of youths sent to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department during Devlin's tenure, but Halpert told the Chronicle he'd seen only one defendant kept in custody Wednesday. "We oppose the wholesale release of violent offenders at any age".
Sharon Watkins Jones, director of political strategies for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, also called for an investigation into Devlin's behavior. But in his detention hearings he usually asks diligent, thorough questions to defense attorneys before deciding to release any defendant. It's unclear how many juveniles were released, but officials said there were at least seven, including four facing aggravated robbery charges.
After election loss, judge releases almost...
ABC 13 reporter Jeff Ehling shared Thursday morning that Judge Glenn Devlin was not in court for the day, and that court staff was unable to answer questions about when he might return. It is improper for a judge to make orders motivated by partisan interests or spite as a result of his political loss.
The judge has not responded to multiple requests for comment.