Born: 2 October 1937
Died: 29 March 2005 (brain tumor)
Birthplace: Shreveport, Louisiana
Best known as: Defense attorney in the O.J. Simpson murder case
Johnnie Cochran's successful defense of football star O.J. Simpson in a 1995 murder trial made him, for a time, the most famous trial lawyer in America. Cochran's triumphant cry to the jury after Simpson had struggled to put on the killer's abandoned glove -- "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit!" -- was the signature moment of the widely-televised trial. Cochran spent most of his legal career in Los Angeles, and though he worked at times as a prosecutor for the city and for LA County, his real successes came as a defense lawyer in racially-charged cases. The descendant of slaves, Cochran became a particular nemesis of the Los Angeles Police Department as he represented black defendants in many high-profile cases alleging police brutality and racism. The Simpson trial sent Cochran's reputation to another level, and he spent his last decade representing high-profile clients like rapper Sean Combs and civil rights legend Rosa Parks. He authored the books Journey to Justice (1996) and A Lawyer's Life (2002).
Extra credit: Cochran's full name was Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr.... O.J. Simpson's so-called "dream team" of defense lawyers also included Robert Shapiro and F. Lee Bailey... Cochran was parodied as the lawyer Jackie Chiles on the TV sitcom Seinfeld... Cochran defended singer Michael Jackson against an early charge of child molestation, settling the case out of court in 1994... He attended UCLA as an undergraduate and Loyola Marymount for law school... Cochran prosecuted comedian Lenny Bruce on obscenity charges in 1964, while Cochran was a deputy attorney for the City of Los Angeles.
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