Johnnie L. Cochran, whose legal career representing both victims of police abuse and celebrities in peril converged under the media glare when he successfully defended O.J. Simpson from murder charges, has died.
Cochran, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in December 2003, died Tuesday at his home in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. He was 67.
Cochran was known for his sharp wardrobe, his sharp tongue and his sharp sense of what a jury needed to hear, reports CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone.
With his gift for courtroom oratory and a knack for coining memorable phrases, Cochran became known for championing the causes of black defendants.
"He was not the most important attorneys of his generation, or the best or the smartest, but he was probably the best known, and the most often imitated in and out of court," said CBSNews.com Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen. "His courtroom presence was powerful, his cases often vital, and of course he presided over what was probably the single greatest legal upset in American history — the acquittal of O.J. Simpson.
While Cochran represented celebrities who included professional football players and rappers, the famed attorney also stuck up for — as one colleague put it — the "common man."
Cochran represented a Haitian immigrant tortured by New York police, a 19-year-old black woman who was shot a dozen times by police as she sat in a locked car and a white trucker who was videotaped being beaten by a mob during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
"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.