Cherry Creek lawyer Michael Andre defended Denver's dark side, until he succumbed to his own.
He defended them as if he was the one who'd been speeding. Word of the Bennigan's lawyer spread quickly. A stripper's friend was busted on prostitution charges. Someone's brother was nailed dealing drugs. Gang members got caught up in searches. They were all Andre clients. It wasn't that he thought they were all innocent—hell, most of them were probably guilty. Still, he believed they deserved a fair shake in court. That was the law.
But Andre also strongly believed that the Denver Police Department didn't always play fair. He often complained to his father that the cops planted evidence and roughed up suspects. He thought they didn't hesitate to lie under oath. He relished the chance to catch officers in courtroom lies, making them squirm on the witness stand. He may not have been an enemy of the DPD, but he wasn't making friends there, either.
Andre became the defender of the disenfranchised. Like Atticus Finch, he started taking cases as a sort of contract public defender through the Alternate Defense Counsel, working for clients who couldn't afford a lawyer. It didn't pay much, but it was important. He didn't judge his clients, and he didn't sugarcoat his advice. That was stupid, he'd say, reckless. Don't do it again.
Besides, all those drug and gang cases were alluring. Andre thrived on the drama of the courtroom: the grandstanding, the verbal sparring. He liked to make the jury laugh because it endeared him, and therefore his client, to the people whose decisions mattered most. At one trial, he killed the lights and instructed Thomerson to do a lounge singer impression. It worked. He won the case, and then, as was his custom, flexed his muscles in the courtroom to peals of laughter.
Andre's small stature barely contained his massive personality. He'd arrive at court on his motorcycle, clad in an expensive Italian suit offset with a Nike beanie—a gift from a client—which he thought was "gangsta." He owned the hallways of the Denver Courthouse, hamming it up with everyone—prosecutors, defense attorneys, security, janitors. Like him or not, they couldn't ignore his presence.
As his reputation grew inside the courthouse, so it did outside. Andre learned to market himself, seeking out clients like Koleen Brooks, the former Georgetown mayor and stripper, when she was accused of felony theft. He took her case for free, reveling in the ensuing media circus, and got the charge knocked down to a misdemeanor.