Johnnie Cochran, Famed Defense Attorney, Dead at 67posted 2005-03-29 18:34:21 by stevemay
LOS ANGELES -- Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., who became a legal superstar after helping clear O.J. Simpson during a sensational murder trial in which he uttered the famous quote "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," died Tuesday. He was 67.
Cochran died of a brain disorder in Los Angeles, said law partner Randy McMurray.
"Certainly, Johnnie's career will be noted as one marked by celebrity cases and clientele," his family said in a statement. "But he and his family were most proud of the work he did on behalf of those in the community."
With his colorful suits and ties, his gift for courtroom oratory and a knack for coining memorable phrases, Cochran was a vivid addition to the pantheon of great American barristers.
The "if it doesn't fit" phrase would be quoted and parodied for years afterward. It derived from a dramatic moment during which Simpson tried on a pair of bloodstained "murder gloves" to show jurors they did not fit. Some legal experts called it the turning point in the trial.
Soon after, jurors found the Hall of Fame football star not guilty of the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
For Cochran, Simpson's acquittal was the crowning achievement in a career notable for victories, often in cases with racial themes. He was a black man known for championing the causes of black defendants. Some of them, like Simpson, were famous, but more often than not they were unknowns.
"The clients I've cared about the most are the No Js, the ones who nobody knows," said Cochran, who proudly displayed copies in his office of the multimillion-dollar checks he won for ordinary citizens who said they were abused by police.
"People in New York and Los Angeles, especially mothers in the African-American community, are more afraid of the police injuring or killing their children than they are of muggers on the corner," he once said.
By the time Simpson called, the byword in the black community for defendants facing serious charges was: "Get Johnnie."