While a few Republican babies were thrown out with the bathwater of the 2008 Democratic courthouse landslide — Caprice Cosper, anyone? — such was not the case with the election of veteran defense attorney Shawna Reagin. In defeating crotchety old Jack Rains, she had support from both ends of the political spectrum and both sides of the bar. Somewhat miraculously, she has disappointed neither. Her legal mind has been honed to a razor's edge by years of appellate and writ work, and defendants with bogus stories tend to find little sympathy in her court. But here's the thing: She can be compassionate and is unafraid of doing so. Unlike so many of our judges in Hang 'Em High Harris County, she never throws away some poor young soul's life if there are viable alternatives. To paraphrase one prosecutor turned defense attorney, "She's tough when she needs to be, compassionate when she can be and always smart enough to know when to be either."