Courthouse regulars were worried a few years ago when longtime judge Doug Shaver announced his retirement from the 262nd bench. He was one of the few Democrats left in any court in the county, and certainly one of the more independent-minded jurists of any affiliation. Concerns about keeping the proverbial level playing field only increased among defense attorneys when voters chose his replacement, a 17-year prosecutor and husband of another assistant district attorney. But Judge Mike Anderson has aptly filled Shaver's black robe -- and then some. He's drawn among the top ratings in Houston Bar Association polls and attracted solid admiration from attorneys for both the state and the defense. Anderson is building a reputation as somebody who will listen to both sides and be beholden to neither. Better yet, he doesn't take himself too seriously. That was shown in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Allison, when beleaguered county justice workers were treated to a street-side barbecue cooked up by, among others, Judge Anderson.