LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Three sitting Louisville judges were ousted in Tuesday night’s election, including one of Jefferson County’s most well-known, outspoken and longest-serving judges in Sean Delahanty.
Delahanty, running for re-election in Jefferson District Court’s 6th division, has been on the bench for two decades and is known as a vocal advocate for easing jail overcrowding by lowering bonds and releasing more defendants who he believed didn’t pose a threat.
This often brought criticism from law enforcement and prosecutors.
Delahanty also had a long-running feud with Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, with the latest spat concerning the legality of a traffic court program launched by O’Connell.
In the end, it was a prosecutor with the county attorney's office, Lisa Langford, who beat Delahanty.
While Delahanty fared better in the Louisville Bar Poll, was endorsed by Citizens for Better Judges and outspent Langford, he still lost by about 2,000 votes.
In an interview, Delahanty said he ran a strong race but believed this was “the year of the woman,” noting that all three sitting judges who lost were men.
Of his 20 years on the bench, Delahanty said he believes he “served honorably” and “touched a lot of lives.”
“I think a lot of people benefited,” he said.
Langford said she was "pleasantly surprised" with the win but noted that she worked hard and has also been in the court system for many years.
"I think that my 14 years as a prosecutor as well as my temperament and disposition helped me - and the fact he had issues here recently probably helped me out too," she said, referring to the criticism that Delahanty was releasing violent defendants.
In addition, two long-time defense attorneys, Annie O’Connell and Julie Kaelin easily beat sitting judges, both winning by more than 50,000 votes.
O’Connell, who has handled several high-profile criminal cases, crushed Darryl Lavery, who was appointed by Gov. Matt Bevin to the circuit court bench last year.
“I think it’s important to have judges who have experience working with marginalized members of our community,” said O’Connell, who thanked her supporters and offered praise for Lavery.
And Kaelin, who worked for years at the Louisville Public Defender’s office, easily handled District Court Judge Todd Hollenbach, who was elected in 2015. Hollenbach previously had been state treasurer.
Kaelin thanked her supporters for believing in her and said “I can only hope to fulfill their expectations on the bench and to make all of Louisville proud.”
The one sitting judge who held on to his seat was Family Court Judge Derwin Webb, who narrowly beat Emily Maria Digenis.
Webb, a former University of Louisville basketball player, won by about 2,000 votes.
In another family court race, Lauren Adams Ogden edged past Lori Goodwin.
And Kristina Garvey beat Tracy Davis for a district court seat.
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