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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Lead OJ Simpson trial lawyer dies
Johnnie Cochran at OJ Simpson's trial
Johnnie Cochran had a starring role in the OJ Simpson murder trial
One of the lawyers who represented murder suspect OJ Simpson in his trial in 1994-95 has died of a brain tumour.

Johnnie Cochran, 67, was also known as a crusader against police abuses, particularly in cases that involved black clients.

Mr Simpson was acquitted of murdering ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman on 12 June 1994.

The ex-football star paid tribute to Cochran, saying the lawyer's belief in his innocence was key to his acquittal.

I knew that I wanted someone who would reflect me to the jury, and who better for that than Johnnie?
OJ Simpson

"Without Johnnie running the ball, I don't think there's a lawyer in the world that could have run that ball. I was innocent, but he believed it," he said.

Cochran - who like Mr Simpson was black - portrayed the case as a conspiracy by a white police officer.

The verdict divided US opinion along racial lines, with most whites feeling that justice had not been done.

Flamboyance in court

Cochran first achieved recognition in 1966 with a failed lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles over a black man shot and killed by police as he rushed his wife to hospital.

1937: Born on 2 October in Shreveport, Louisiana
1963: Admitted to bar
1977: Criminal trial lawyer of the year, Los Angeles
1985: Defends former US football star Jim Brown on rape charge; case dismissed
1993: Wins settlement from pop star Michael Jackson after child abuse allegations
1994-95: Defends OJ Simpson against murder charges
1996: Rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg acquitted of being accessory to murder
1999: Rapper Sean 'Puff Daddy' Combs cleared of gun charges

A stylish dresser, he became renowned for his self-confidence and flamboyance in court.

He had known Mr Simpson since their daughters attended college together in Washington DC.

When asked why he chose Cochran to represent him, Mr Simpson said: "I knew that I wanted someone who would reflect me to the jury, and who better for that than Johnnie?"

He was seen as bold and decisive in the trial.

He coined the famous phrase "if it doesn't fit, you must acquit", after gloves stained with the victims' blood found at Mr Simpson's home were apparently found to be too small for the accused.

Mr Simpson was later found liable for the deaths in a civil trial and ordered to pay $33.5m in damages.

More recently, Cochran has been representing a family suing Walt Disney over alleged unpaid royalties from Winnie the Pooh.

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