Originally posted by BigDaddyLocoHe got the guiltiest looking man off the hook and he basically took control of the court room from Ito early on and never looked back. I would have hired him.
Just the fact that Johnnie Cochran could take a man like OJ and get him off when even the most retarded of us looked at him and all the facts and said, "Man, how could he NOT be guilty?" showed that he was the absolute best at what he did.
You know, I was just saying the other day that with all the high-profile trials we've seen in the past year or so, Johnnie Cochran must be sick if he's not involved in any of them. I thought I was just talking out of my ass like always.
"Take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government." -----Lenny Bruce
March 30, 2005 Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., Trial Lawyer Defined by O.J. Simpson Case, Is Dead at 67 By ADAM LIPTAK www.nytimes.com
Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., whose fierce, flamboyant and electrifyingly effective advocacy in the O. J. Simpson murder trial captivated the country and solidified his image as a master of high-profile criminal defense, died yesterday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 67.
The cause was a brain tumor, said a law partner, Peter J. Neufeld.
Mr. Cochran was already a prominent Los Angeles lawyer in 1994, when Mr. Simpson, the former football star, asked him to join and then lead the lawyers defending him on charges that he had killed his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and a friend of hers, Ronald L. Goldman.
The televised trial riveted the nation for most of 1995 and rocked it that October, when the jury acquitted Mr. Simpson. He was later held responsible for the killings in a civil case, where another jury evaluated much of the same evidence against a more relaxed standard of proof.
Before the Simpson case, Mr. Cochran was best known for bringing police brutality cases on behalf of black clients and for representing celebrities in trouble. Both experiences proved valuable at the Simpson trial.
Drawing on his knowledge of the Los Angeles Police Department gleaned from his days in the Los Angeles city attorney's office, Mr. Cochran focused the Simpson jury's attention on shortcomings in the department's investigation of the killings and on the seeming racism of one of its detectives.
In the trial's aftermath, Mr. Cochran's name became a sort of shorthand, but one that meant different things in different contexts. To some, it stood for legal acumen. To others, a masterly rapport with the jury. To still others, the vexing roles of money and race in the justice system.
Mr. Cochran mostly enjoyed the references to him in films and on late-night television, where he was both admired as a singularly effective trial lawyer and mocked for his smooth style and court rhetoric.
He pleaded guilty to charges of extravagance and flamboyance.
"I like to get paid well and I like to enjoy the rewards of my work," he wrote.
But the money he made, he said, allowed him to work for people he called "the No J's" - "those cases I've taken in which the chances for getting paid are actually pretty slim."
For all the publicity of the Simpson trial, the case that Mr. Cochran always said meant the most to him was that of Elmer Pratt, a leader of the Black Panther Party also known as Geronimo. Mr. Cochran represented Mr. Pratt when he was convicted in 1972 of murdering a 27-year-old schoolteacher on a tennis court in Santa Monica, and worked tirelessly to overturn that verdict.
In 1997, Mr. Cochran was part of the team that convinced Judge Everett W. Dickey of Orange County Superior Court to void the conviction and free Mr. Pratt because prosecutors had withheld crucial evidence about a witness.
That same year, Mr. Cochran traded on the fame he achieved in the Simpson trial to form a successful national law firm - The Cochran Firm - devoted mostly to personal injury cases. In "A Lawyer's Life," one of his two autobiographies, Mr. Cochran conceded that he was involved in only a few of the firm's cases and often just tangentially. His name, though, he said, was often "enough to cause the other side to initiate settlement discussions."
"I'm sort of the legal gunslinger," he wrote, "the celebrity lawyer." Mr. Cochran was a steady presence on television after the Simpson trial, serving as the host of programs on Court TV and as a legal commentator on NBC and elsewhere.
His work at Court TV caused him to spend more time in New York, and he became a presence in the city's legal and political circles.
He represented Abner Louima, the Haitian immigrant tortured by police officers in the bathroom of a Brooklyn station house in 1997, eventually helping to settle Mr. Louima's civil case for $8.75 million.
He also briefly represented Kadiatou Diallo, the mother of Amadou Diallo, who was killed by four police officers in 1999. She fired him, saying she was frustrated by his lack of attention to the details of the case.
He and Benjamin Brafman defended Sean Combs, the rap star, in a weapons case in 2001. Mr. Combs was acquitted.
Mr. Cochran helped pay a libel judgment against the Rev. Al Sharpton, erasing a political liability, "because," Mr. Cochran said, "New York needs Al Sharpton." Mr. Cochran was himself an occasional plaintiff. In 1997, Andrea Peyser wrote a column about Mr. Cochran's representation of Ms. Louima in The New York Post. "History reveals," Ms. Peyser wrote, referring to the Simpson case, that Mr. Cochran "will say or do just about anything to win, typically at the expense of the truth."
Mr. Cochran filed a libel suit. In 1998, a federal judge in Los Angeles, Kim McLane Wardlaw, agreed with Mr. Cochran about what Ms. Peyser meant - "that he 'made up the police conspiracy theory' during O.J. Simpson's criminal trial 'to save the guilty O.J. Simpson.' "
The statement was still, Judge Wardlaw concluded in dismissing the suit, an opinion protected by the First Amendment.
In 2000, Mr. Cochran also sued a former client, Ulysses Tory, for libel. Mr. Tory, dissatisfied with Mr. Cochran's work, had for years written threatening letters to Mr. Cochran and picketed at his office and during court appearances. In 2003, a California state appeals court upheld an order prohibiting Mr. Tory from commenting on Mr. Cochran "in any public forum."
The United States Supreme Court heard arguments in the case this month. News organizations and law professors filed briefs urging the court to overturn the order, saying it represented a prior restraint on speech that is prohibited by the First Amendment.
Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. was born in Shreveport, La., on Oct. 2, 1937. His father, Johnnie L. Cochran Sr., a pipe fitter and later an insurance executive, moved the family to Alameda, Calif., in 1943.
The younger Mr. Cochran graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1959, with a degree in business administration, and from Loyola Law School three years later.
He joined the Los Angeles city attorney's office, at first handling drunken driving and misdemeanor battery cases. Later, he prosecuted Lenny Bruce, the comedian, on criminal obscenity charges. A judge dismissed the case on First Amendment grounds.
He went into private practice in 1966 and made a name for himself in police brutality cases but handled hundreds of other case, too.
He represented Michael Jackson, the pop star, in his first child molesting case. Mr. Cochran helped negotiate a settlement of a civil case in 1994, and prosecutors dropped the criminal charges.
In all of his cases, Mr. Cochran showed notable flair and creativity.
When a client accused of robbery said he was a victim of mistaken identity, Mr. Cochran asked the victim to point out the robber from the witness stand.
"Without hesitating," Mr. Cochran recalled, "she pointed right at the man sitting at the defense table and said firmly, 'That's him, sitting at the table.' "
"But knowing I was going to ask that question," Mr. Cochran continued, "I'd seated my client among the spectators and had a man of about the same build sitting at the table." His client went free.
Mr. Cochran's opposition to the death penalty was tested in 1998, when his younger brother, Ralonzo, was murdered. He asked the district attorney, without success, not to seek the death penalty. The killer was later sentenced to 75 years to life.
Mr. Cochran is survived by his wife, Dale Mason; two daughters, Melodie Cochran and Tiffany Edwards; a son, Jonathan; and two sisters, Pearl Baker and Martha Jean Sherrard.
The team of lawyers who worked on the Simpson case included some of the nation's greatest legal talents and biggest egos. The so-called dream team, which included Robert L. Shapiro, F. Lee Bailey, Alan M. Dershowitz, Barry Scheck and Mr. Neufeld, did not always get along.
After the trial, Mr. Shapiro said he regretted some of the team's tactics. "Not only did we play the race card," he told Barbara Walters, "we dealt it from the bottom of the deck."
In his 1996 memoir, "Journey to Justice," Mr. Cochran responded.
"If some people insist in comparing a double murder trial to a card game," he wrote, "then they ought to be honest enough to admit that we played the history and credibility cards." Mr. Cochran was often asked if he believed that Mr. Simpson was innocent. His answers were careful. Mr. Simpson has always maintained his innocence, he would say.
And often he would change the subject, to police misconduct and to the role of race in the criminal justice system. Mr. Cochran spoke with pride about catching Mark Fuhrman, then a Los Angeles police detective, in a lie about whether he had ever used a racial epithet.
But Mr. Cochran's legacy may well be captured in a little rhyme he used to convince the Simpson jurors to let his client go. He reminded them that Mr. Simpson, asked by prosecutors to try on a bloody glove found at his house after the killings, struggled without success to pull it on.
"If the glove doesn't fit," Mr. Cochran said, "you must acquit."
Mr. Cochran said the line was suggested by another member of the legal team, Gerald Uelmen, and sometimes he seemed to grow tired of the references to it and parodies of it in the popular culture.
"It's the line that eventually will be cited by Bartlett's Familiar Quotations," he wrote, "the line endlessly quoted to me by people, the line by which I'll be remembered, and I suspect it will probably be my epitaph."
"Well, you can't involve friendship with business. It has to be one or the other. It's either business or friendship, or hit the bricks!" --Life Lessons from "The Tao of Bobby the Brain Heenan" Uncensored 2000 preview
"As long as the check don't bounce, I guess he's okay with it!" --Former All Pro Giants LB Harry Carson on Bill Parcells joining the hated rival Dallas Cowboys
He was an incredible Civil Rights lawyer. We must not let the polarization over the OJ case negate all the very important work he did like taking on and exposing racial profiling by the NJ police department. He idolizaed Thurgood Marshall and should be remembered for much more than just "getting OJ off." He understood court cases better than most and his ability to understand how a jury would see a case and the law is what made him so successful.
"Many of the leading papers over here are fairly right wing, including The Sun in spite of its switch in allegiance to New Labour (actually some would argue 'in spite of' isn't the right phrase, but I digress).