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Johnnie Cochran

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Johnnie Cochran

Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. (October 2, 1937March 29, 2005) was a famed African American defense attorney best known for his role in the "Dream Team" of legal defense for O. J. Simpson during his highly publicized murder trial. Cochran also represented Sean "P. Diddy" Combs during his trial on gun and bribery charges, Michael Jackson during his 1993 allegation of child sexual abuse, as well as actor Todd Bridges, football player Jim Brown and rappers Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg during various trials. He also represented Reginald Oliver Denny, the white trucker beaten by a mob during the 1992 riots that followed the verdict of not guilty in the trial of police officers charged with assaulting Rodney King. Cochran was masterful in the courtroom and gained prominence as an early advocate for victims of police abuse before achieving worldwide fame for successfully defending Simpson.

Contents

Life and legal practice

The eldest child of four, Cochran was born at Charity Hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana. His parents were Johnnie L. Cochran, Sr., the son of Alonzo Cochran, and the late Hattie Bass Cochran (died 1991), the daughter of Eugene Bass. He was raised in Los Angeles, California.

After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1959 with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration, Cochran earned a law degree from Loyola Marymount University three years later, in 1962. He passed the California Bar in 1963, took a job in Los Angeles as a deputy city attorney in the criminal division. Two years later, he entered private practice and soon opened his own firm, Cochran, Atkins & Evans. By the late 1970s, he had made his name in the black community, and was litigating a number of high-profile police brutality and criminal cases. In 1978, he joined the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, but returned to private practice five years later.

In private practice, Cochran was best known to the general public as a criminal defense lawyer. In most of his cases, however, he represented plaintiffs in tort actions. He founded The Cochran Firm, a law firm that expanded through internal growth and a series of mergers and regional partnerships. The firm, with offices in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, D.C, specialized in personal injury cases.

During closing arguments in the Simpson trial, he uttered the now famous enthymeme, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." The phrase derived from a dramatic moment during the trial, in which Simpson tried on a pair of bloodstained "murder gloves" to show jurors they did not fit. [1] (http://www.cnn.com/US/OJ/daily/9-27/8pm/) Some legal experts called it the turning point in the trial.

Popular culture

Following the Simpson trial, Cochran became a popular figure in parodies, being depicted or caricatured on Saturday Night Live, TV Funhouse, Seinfeld, South Park (see Chewbacca Defense), and similar shows. He was also mentioned in several films, including, Lethal Weapon 4, when Chris Rock's character, Detective Butters, advised a suspect that, although he had the right to an attorney, "If you get Johnnie Cochran, I’ll kill you" and 1997's Jackie Brown where a character boasted that his lawyer was so good, "he's my own personal Johnnie Cochran."

Cochran himself took these parodies in stride, discussing them in his autobiography, A Lawyer’s Life. After the Simpson trial, Cochran himself was a frequent commentator on law-related television shows.

He's also mentioned in the song "Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous" by Good Charlotte: "You could kill your wife and there's no such thing as 25 to life as long as you've got the cash to pay for Cochran".

Death

Cochran died at his home in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 29, 2005 at 12:30 PM (PST) of an inoperable brain tumor, according to his brother-in-law Bill Baker. His wife and his two sisters were with him at the time of his death. Cochran was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.

See also

External links

Obituaries

no:Johnnie Cochran

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