Johnny Cochran Jr passes

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Famed Attorney Johnnie Cochran Dies at 67

By Carla Hall

Times Staff Writer



3:08 PM PST, March 29, 2005



Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., the masterful attorney who gained prominence as an early advocate for victims of police abuse, then achieved worldwide fame for successfully defending football star O.J. Simpson on murder charges, died this afternoon. He was 67.



Cochran died at his home in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles 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, his family and colleagues were secretive about his illness to protect the attorney's privacy as well as the network of Cochran law offices that largely draw their cache from his presence. But Cochran confirmed in a Sept. 2004 interview with The Times that he was being treated by the eminent neurosurgeon Keith Black at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.



Long before his defense of Simpson, Cochran was challenging the Los Angeles Police Department's misconduct.



From the 1960s on, when he represented the widow of Leonard Deadwyler, a black motorist killed during a police stop in Los Angeles, Cochran took police abuse to court. He won historic financial settlements and helped bring about lasting changes in police procedure.



His clients weren't always black ? he unsuccessfully represented Reginald Denny, the white trucker beaten by a mob during the 1991 riots that followed the verdicts of not guilty in the trial of police officers charged with assaulting Rodney King. Instead of arguing, as he often did, that police had been brutal on the job, Cochran contended that the trucker's civil rights had been violated because police didn't do their jobs when they withdrew from a South Los Angeles intersection of Florence and Normandie, where rioting was fierce and Denny was beaten.



By the time Simpson was accused of murder in 1994, Cochran was "larger than life" in the city's black community, said Kerman Maddox, a political consultant and longtime Los Angeles resident. After Simpson, that profile would expand, earning him new admirers as well as new detractors who considered him a racially polarizing force.



His successful defense of Simpson against charges of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Lyle Goldman, a waiter and friend of Nicole's, vaulted him to the rank of celebrity, beseeched by autograph-seekers and parodied on "Saturday Night Live" and "Seinfeld."



His name was invoked by movie characters, one of whom boasted in the 1997 film "Jackie Brown" that his lawyer was so good, "he's my own personal Johnnie Cochran." Ever aware of his public image, he delighted in the attention and even played along, showing up in the occasional movie or TV show in a cameo role as himself.



Resplendently tailored and silky-voiced, clever and genteel, Cochran came to epitomize the formidable litigator, sought after by the famous and wealthy, the obscure and struggling, all believing they were victims of the system in one way or another.



He could figure out how to connect with any jury, and in his most famous case, the Simpson trial, he delivered to the jurors an eloquent, even lilting closing argument. He famously cast doubt on the prosecution's theory of the case saying, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." The line referred to Cochran's overall assessment of the prosecution's evidence, but it most evoked the moment during the trial when Simpson appeared to struggle to put on what were presumed to be the murderer's bloody gloves ? one of which was found at the murder scene, the other outside Simpson's house.



As a result, the line is often quoted as "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit"-an adaptation that even Cochran made in his 2002 book, "A Lawyer's Life."



"He has a real gift for communicating with people," Erwin Chemerinsky, a Duke University law professor who offered analysis of the Simpson trial, said in late 2004. "Obviously you saw that in the O.J. case.? I think you could have given that case to a lot of talented lawyers and O.J. would have been convicted."



Cochran inspired law students and attained a level of stardom rare for a lawyer and even rarer for a black lawyer. One of his most important legacies was the transforming effect of a black man attaining that level of success.



"Clients of all races are now no longer hesitant to retain black lawyers to represent them in significant cases," said Winston Kevin McKesson, a black criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. "That was not the case 25 or 30 years ago. We couldn't even get African Americans in our community to trust us. He's a historic figure."



However, the Simpson criminal trial defined Cochran's career for better and for worse. While it made him a household name and offered him access to virtually every high-profile criminal case, it also changed his life "drastically and forever," he wrote in "A Lawyer's Life." "It obscured everything I had done previously."



More galling and perplexing to him was the criticism that rained down after the Simpson verdicts. Though many legal experts marveled at Cochran's skill, a parade of critics ? TV pundits and newspaper columnists, California's then governor, the Republican Pete Wilson, and even his own co-counsel, Robert Shapiro ? decried a legal strategy that put the competence and character of the Los Angeles Police Department on trial.



"Not only did we play the race card, we dealt it from the bottom of the deck," Shapiro said in a national TV interview after Simpson was acquitted by a jury of nine African Americans, two whites and one Latino. (All but two were women.)



During the trial, Cochran and the rest of the defense team excoriated criminalists for sloppy work that compromised blood evidence and claimed that police officers prejudged Simpson. Cochran and his "Dream Team", as the defense attorneys were known, revealed that police Detective Mark Fuhrman, who collected key evidence in the case, had a history of making racist remarks.



Everything about the Simpson case came to personify the excess of Los Angeles. A combustible combination of murder, sex and race, the extravagantly lengthy trial was carried live on television, making it arguably the first high-profile reality TV show.



When it was finally over, the jury acquitted Simpson, but many in the public did not. A Times poll indicated that half the American public disagreed with the verdict. And the majority believed the defense used the issue of race inappropriately to help free a defendant whose controversial saga began unfolding when he fled police in a nationally televised slow-speed freeway chase.



Chemerinsky said Cochran did nothing more than discharge his duty as a zealous advocate in defending Simpson. "I think Johnnie Cochran did a superb job," Chemerinsky said. "He ultimately put the LAPD and the racism of the LAPD on trial, and that worked with that jury."



Cochran spent two post-trial memoirs trying to dispel the criticism.



"The charge that I could convince black jurors to vote to acquit a man they believed to be guilty of two murders because he is black is an insult to all African Americans," he wrote in "A Lawyer's Life."



It wasn't, Cochran contended, that he believed the police had conspired to frame Simpson. It was more that their racism led them to a "rush to judgment" and a willingness to "adjust the physical evidence slightly," he wrote.



"He got an awful rap in the white community after the Simpson trial," said Stuart Hanlon, a white attorney who was a longtime criminal defense collaborator with Cochran. "All he did was do a great job as a lawyer ? which is what we're supposed to do ? and beat some inept prosecutor. For him to get vilified for it just shows the racism in our community. I really think if OJ's lawyer had been white, that wouldn't have happened.? If I had done that trial and won, no one would hate me."



Ironically, up to that time, Cochran had spent most of his life not as a racial polarizing force but as the integrator, the black man gliding easily through white conference rooms, dinner parties, and neighborhoods.



In a September 2004 phone interview with the Times, Cochran said, he still would have taken the case knowing it would change his life. "I thought it was the right thing to do," he said.



Cochran continued to support Simpson's version of his activities the night his former wife and Goldman were found knifed to death outside her Brentwood townhouse.



"I still believe he's innocent of those charges," Cochran said in the September 2004 interview. "Even after all this time."\t



_________________
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,273member
    RIP JC.



    I've always viewed you as a role model. You did your job and never expected too many accolades. I'm sorry that you were taken early.
  • Reply 2 of 22
    Quote:

    Originally posted by hmurchison

    Famed Attorney Johnnie Cochran Dies at 67

    By Carla Hall

    Times Staff Writer



    3:08 PM PST, March 29, 2005



    Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., the masterful attorney who gained prominence as an early advocate for victims of police abuse, then achieved worldwide fame for successfully defending football star O.J. Simpson on murder charges, died this afternoon. He was 67.



    "I still believe he's innocent of those charges," Cochran said in the September 2004 interview. "Even after all this time."\t



    _________________




    I guess I'm torn on this. On one hand I think he was obviously masterful at beating the California Judicial System and if he truely belived ole' OJ was innocent then he should be commended. I however lean towards the facts...



    -You cant take some blood then by accidentally collecting it wrong make OJ blood. DNA is pretty damn accurate.



    --You can't take OJ's irratic behavior and schedule the night of the murder and in the weeks that followed as him just being eccentric.



    -And you certainly cannot acquit just because the glove doesnt fit.



    -For God's sake he had Nicoles blood in the inside of his socks.



    If theres any such thing as Karma, Johnnie is downstairs eating a shit sandwich while having his toenails yanked out one by one.
  • Reply 3 of 22
    don't fault cochran for being a good lawyer. his job is to defend his client and ensure that they, regardless of perceived guilt, receives a fair trial. you want to blame someone for the o.j. mess then blame the prosecution for incompetence.
  • Reply 4 of 22
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,273member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by running with scissors

    don't fault cochran for being a good lawyer. his job is to defend his client and ensure that they, regardless of perceived guilt, receives a fair trial. you want to blame someone for the o.j. mess then blame the prosecution for incompetence.



    That's pretty much it.



    Marcia Clark and Chris Dearden showed how NOT to run a trial from the prosecution standpoint. They were aced and outclassed at every step of the way.



    I will not fault Cochran for doing everything in his power legally to exonerate his client. That's a lawyers job and if you're not willing to do that then don't take the case. The basic tenets of our legal system revolve around due process for all which includes adequate legal representation. I cannot and will not fault a lawyer for upholding these principals.



    Unfortunately Cochran's legacy will be tied to OJ and people will forget the tireless and thankless work he did for thousands of clients. The man was a class act and the legal profession lost a good one.
  • Reply 5 of 22
    ipodandimacipodandimac Posts: 3,273member
    i dont get why people care about this. sure, he was famous or whatever, but his job was keeping criminals on the streets instead of in jail. i'll be damned if i respect that.
  • Reply 6 of 22
    objra10objra10 Posts: 679member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by hmurchison

    That's pretty much it.



    Marcia Clark and Chris Dearden showed how NOT to run a trial from the prosecution standpoint. They were aced and outclassed at every step of the way.



    I will not fault Cochran for doing everything in his power legally to exonerate his client. That's a lawyers job and if you're not willing to do that then don't take the case. The basic tenets of our legal system revolve around due process for all which includes adequate legal representation. I cannot and will not fault a lawyer for upholding these principals.



    Unfortunately Cochran's legacy will be tied to OJ and people will forget the tireless and thankless work he did for thousands of clients. The man was a class act and the legal profession lost a good one.




    Actually, while you are correct that the prosecution in this case were pathetic, it is not true that Cochran was "just doing his job." It is not the job description of a defense attorney to "do everything in his power legally to exonerate his client." It is in fact his/her job to ensure due process and a fair trial. To protect the rights of his/her client - not to do anything to get them off.



    A defense attorney should not measure success by how many people, guilty or innocent, go free, but rather by whether or not each had a fair trial by a jury of his/her peers where the rules of evidence were followed and where a conviction was obtained without undue influence. If a guilty person ends up going free, fine, but that should never be the goal of a defense attorney.



    A defense attorney is an officer of the court, and as such is sworn to uphold justice and the law. It is his/her duty to ensure that the prosecution proves their case beyond a "reasonable" doubt.



    In this case, Cochran was able to prevent that from happening. If that makes him a success, so be it.
  • Reply 7 of 22
    Quote:

    Originally posted by ipodandimac

    i dont get why people care about this. sure, he was famous or whatever, but his job was keeping criminals on the streets instead of in jail. i'll be damned if i respect that.



    so if you were to ever to be prosecuted for a crime that you did not commit, that you wouldn't want the best lawyer out there to represent your ass? you wouldn't want a johnnie cochran? riiiiight.



    it's easy to castigate defense attorneys, but never forget that they are your mouth and ears, your alter ego if you will, in the legal system. they do for you, what you would do for yourself, if you knew how to do it. it is as simple as that.
  • Reply 8 of 22
    playmakerplaymaker Posts: 511member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by OBJRA10

    Actually, while you are correct that the prosecution in this case were pathetic, it is not true that Cochran was "just doing his job." It is not the job description of a defense attorney to "do everything in his power legally to exonerate his client." It is in fact his/her job to ensure due process and a fair trial. To protect the rights of his/her client - not to do anything to get them off.



    A defense attorney should not measure success by how many people, guilty or innocent, go free, but rather by whether or not each had a fair trial by a jury of his/her peers where the rules of evidence were followed and where a conviction was obtained without undue influence. If a guilty person ends up going free, fine, but that should never be the goal of a defense attorney.



    A defense attorney is an officer of the court, and as such is sworn to uphold justice and the law. It is his/her duty to ensure that the prosecution proves their case beyond a "reasonable" doubt.



    In this case, Cochran was able to prevent that from happening. If that makes him a success, so be it.




    You stated this brilliantly and without the elbow nudgeing I used in my post. I did want to add that no matter how brilliant he might have been at getting OJ acquited in this particular case it says nothing about his scruples (An axe murderer with a 180 IQ doesnt make him any less crazy). I'm not blaming Johnnie for OJ's crime, I'm simply stating that just because he was successful in keeping a murderer out of jail he is not absolved of moral responsibility. Karma is a motherfucker.
  • Reply 9 of 22
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,273member
    Quote:

    It is not the job description of a defense attorney to "do everything in his power legally to exonerate his client." It is in fact his/her job to ensure due process and a fair trial. To protect the rights of his/her client - not to do anything to get them off.



    Semantics. A defense attorney accomplishes due process by utilizing every avenue he/she can on behalf of their client. By accepting the case most lawyers beyond public defenders believe in their clients case enough. If that means playing "Race Cards" or being rough and tumble then that's what you have to do. Lawyer have a code of ethic and as long as that's not broken everything else is fair game.



    Quote:

    i dont get why people care about this. sure, he was famous or whatever, but his job was keeping criminals on the streets instead of in jail. i'll be damned if i respect that.



    LOL...like you know any other Johnnie Cochran clients other than OJ.



    Quote:

    I'm not blaming Johnnie for OJ's crime



    Naturally. You can't blame his attorney. The attorney is there to do their job. If JC Jr did something wrong the bar association would have looked into it.



    If OJ was guilty then we really need to look at why there was the possibility of jury nullification not blame the legal counsel.



    Any attorney I hire better be willing to do whatever is in her power to win my case. I won't ask them to use unethical methods.
  • Reply 10 of 22
    objra10objra10 Posts: 679member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by hmurchison

    Semantics. A defense attorney accomplishes due process by utilizing every avenue he/she can on behalf of their client. By accepting the case most lawyers beyond public defenders believe in their clients case enough. If that means playing "Race Cards" or being rough and tumble then that's what you have to do. Lawyer have a code of ethic and as long as that's not broken everything else is fair game.





    Well, since I'm guessing that I'm the only one of the two of us who has actually been a defense attorney, I'm going to push back on your understanding of their "job." The role of a defense attorney is not to "utilize every avenue he/she can on behalf of their client." Their role/job is to ensure that their rights and due process is protected.









    Quote:

    Naturally. You can't blame his attorney. The attorney is there to do their job. If JC Jr did something wrong the bar association would have looked into it.



    Without commenting directly on JC Jr., I would stil argue that there are many issues that would be considered underhanded that will not ever be investigated by any bar association. You do know who makes up the majority of your local bar association right? Trial Lawyers.



    Quote:

    Any attorney I hire better be willing to do whatever is in her power to win my case. I won't ask them to use unethical methods.



    Actually, that's not what a lawyer is supposed to do, or what they are legally obligated to do. A lawyer is supposed to be zealous for their client within the bounds of the law. They are an officer of the court, which means that they are sworn to uphold justice.



    The constitutional right to counsel was never intended to be a right to have someone do anything they can to get you an acquittal, but to guarantee that you would have a fair trial, and that the government could not deprive you of liberty or rights without due process.
  • Reply 11 of 22
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,273member
    OBJRA10



    After further reflection I aquiesce. You are right, due process is paramount and that requires adherence to our legal principal and foundation above even your client.



    Guess I got a little over zealous in my support for JC Jr. I try to remain fair and balanced but I'm human and the passion sometimes gets me off track.



    BTW are you still practicing law? My mother just opened up her own practice here in Seattle focusing on special education needs for children in school. I may go for my J.D but I don't think I could be a defense attorney. It's a tough job so I have much respect for you.
  • Reply 12 of 22
    objra10objra10 Posts: 679member
    I am no longer a defense attorney, but I am still in practice. I just work for the state now. But I have been a defense attorney, a prosecutor, and a judge. I've seen most every side of the law.



    I will say that irrespective of the previous conversation, Johnnie Cochran was a good attorney... I wasn't attempting to say otherwise, but rather to clarify the role of legal representation.
  • Reply 13 of 22
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,273member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by OBJRA10

    I am no longer a defense attorney, but I am still in practice. I just work for the state now. But I have been a defense attorney, a prosecutor, and a judge. I've seen most every side of the law.



    I will say that irrespective of the previous conversation, Johnnie Cochran was a good attorney... I wasn't attempting to say otherwise, but rather to clarify the role of legal representation.




    Counselor you were crystal clear on that. I would love to be able to review the case history of JC jr. His high profile cases don't due justice to the man and his talents.



    You do have quite the experience. It must be interesting to have been both a defense and prosecuting attorney. I'm sure the "feel" is quite different. Regards.
  • Reply 14 of 22
    Does anyone else remember exactly where they were when OJ was found not guilty? I remember.



    English Class. The teachers all had the TVs on watching.



    After they announced the verdict, our teacher said, we'll that's it. There is no justice. (and just like that, she turned a room full of impressionable youngsters into 'out of the box' thinkers)



    I wonder if teachers even realize the impressions they leave on kids?
  • Reply 15 of 22
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,273member
    To me the OJ case was lost during jury selection. I think this was textbook jury nullification.



    Ito seemed to be out in deep waters not knowing how to get back in and the prosecution seemed to gaffe by drawing out the trial with sidebars and extraneous things.



    I think they get a conviction if they close the case down a month earlier. The jury seemed desensitized to the pictures at the end.



    Justice is a tough thing to obtain. I guess we just try our best and remain vigilant towards following legal principals.



    I think TVs should not be in the court room. Johnnie was eloquent and persuasive and his one-liners irked a lot of people but were effective.
  • Reply 16 of 22
    playmakerplaymaker Posts: 511member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Not Unlike Myself

    Does anyone else remember exactly where they were when OJ was found not guilty? I remember.



    English Class. The teachers all had the TVs on watching.



    After they announced the verdict, our teacher said, we'll that's it. There is no justice. (and just like that, she turned a room full of impressionable youngsters into 'out of the box' thinkers)



    I wonder if teachers even realize the impressions they leave on kids?




    I was living in Missouri walking across campus to my dorm when out of nowhere most of the black students began screaming and running around as if their favorite team had just won the world series. When I found out what they were screaming about I just felt sad. It seemed and was almost entirely racially motivated (their reaction that is). Then the more I thought about it I bacame angry that 2 faceless colorless nondenominational people were killed and because of flaws in the legal system and biast a murderer was free to go about his daily activities. I was further enraged at the fact that the same students who were cheering would have rioted had the racial roles been reversed (ala Rodney King). The whole scenario was just shitty.
  • Reply 17 of 22
    playmakerplaymaker Posts: 511member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by hmurchison

    To me the OJ case was lost during jury selection. I think this was textbook jury nullification.



    Ito seemed to be out in deep waters not knowing how to get back in and the prosecution seemed to gaffe by drawing out the trial with sidebars and extraneous things.



    I think they get a conviction if they close the case down a month earlier. The jury seemed desensitized to the pictures at the end.



    Justice is a tough thing to obtain. I guess we just try our best and remain vigilant towards following legal principals.



    I think TVs should not be in the court room. Johnnie was eloquent and persuasive and his one-liners irked a lot of people but were effective.




    And I agree that NO TVs should not be in the courtroom. We can easily find entertainment elsewhere.
  • Reply 18 of 22
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    What basis do you use to determine that it's "highly likely that some of the evidence was planted by the police"?
  • Reply 19 of 22
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by tonton

    It was apparent that that was what the jury concluded in their assessment of "reasonable doubt". Did you follow the case?



    Yes I did; it was a circus.



    At the trial the jury gives one word opinions. Did they say something afterward that makes you believe it's "highly likely that some of the evidence was planted by the police"? What evidence did they site?
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