I was very saddened to learn yesterday that my friend and longtime Defense Attorney John Denninger passed away after a battle with lung cancer.
I first met John when I became a Felony Two in Judge Michael McSpadden's court around 2006. He, along with Ken Goode and Chuck Hinton, were the contract attorneys in the court. I had known Chuck and Ken when I had been an academic intern in the 209th back in 1998, but John wasn't in the court back then.
John took me awhile to figure out, because he had such a deadpan sense of humor. Where Chuck and Ken were more prone to laughing out loud and telling jokes, John was often quiet and stone-faced by comparison. It wasn't until I got to know him better that I realized the quiet demeanor actually masked a very very dry wit.
He was a good lawyer who was very dedicated to his clients, and we tried serious cases against each other during the time I spent in Judge McSpadden's court. His clients were appointed to him, and he fought vigorously for them. He didn't lose his cool on the high stress cases and he tried them with integrity and the highest level of ethics.
After I left the 209th, I didn't see much of John anymore, except in the hallways of the CJC. Every time I saw him, he would always smile brightly and ask how I was doing. He was a very nice man.
The last time I saw him was earlier this year. He was having dinner with his daughter, and he introduced me to her. It was very apparent that he was enjoying father/daughter time and he couldn't have been prouder to be there with her.
I didn't even know that John was sick until a few weeks ago.
As a member of HCCLA, I can't talk about those things that are posted on the listserve, but I will say that John is being very fondly remembered today by his peers from the Defense Bar. He was highly respected as an attorney, a family man, and a friend.
We are all very sad to lose our friend, John Denninger.