Johnnie Cochran, who broke into another stratosphere of fame after helping O.J. Simpson get acquitted, died yesterday at age 67. He had been suffering from a brain tumor and died in his son's home in Los Angeles. While Cochran took pride in his career as a civil rights lawyer, the Simpson case, culminating with Cochran's uttering of "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit" truly made him a household name and fair game in popular culture (Seinfeld had "Jackie Chiles," a wacky and showman lawyer that was a little more than just similar to Cochran).
The NY Times noted Cochran's New York connection:
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.
LAist on Cochran's death.