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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March 2005, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
A life fighting for the 'No Js'
Johnnie Cochran
Johnnie Cochran worked for rich, poor, black and white
Johnnie Cochran, the man credited with securing OJ Simpson's acquittal on murder charges, was a charismatic figure in the courtroom.

He fought and won a string of high-profile cases in his career.

Yet despite his celebrity status, he remained proudest of years spent arguing for a string of poor clients, many of them black - people he himself dubbed "No Js".

Cochran died on 29 March aged 67.

Below are a selection of his career highlights.

THE BLACK PANTHER

Never one to enjoy being associated with defeat, Cochran vowed to overturn the 1972 conviction of a former Black Panther leader on a murder charge.

Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt was found guilty of murdering school teacher Caroline Olsen in 1968, but consistently claimed his conviction was part of an effort by the FBI and police to undermine the militant Black Panther movement.

Cochran continued fighting for Elmer Pratt, eventually securing his release in 1997 after he had served 29 years in jail.

"I didn't know I was up against the entire government," Cochran said on the eve of his fifth attempt to win a retrial for his client.

"I will not stop practising law until Pratt is proven innocent," he added.

"It's a matter of integrity. This is my Waterloo."

DEFENDING THE POOR

Johnnie Cochran with Haitian immigrant Abner Louima
Haitian Abner Louima won millions after being tortured by police
In 1990 Cochran negotiated the largest settlement in the history of the Los Angeles school district on behalf on 18 black girls.

They had been sexually molested by a teacher known to be a convicted paedophile before he was hired.

"Nobody did anything about it because these people were poor and minority," Cochran said.

"Not only does the settlement ensure none of the girls will ever have to work, I made sure a major fund was established should any of them ever suffer psychological problems."

For Cochran, the case epitomised the kind of case he made his name on.

"The clients I've cared about the most are the No Js, the ones who nobody knows," he said.

"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.

He won millions for Haitian immigrant Abner Louima, who was sexually tortured at a New York police station, and took on the case of Reginald Denny, a white truck driver beaten by a mob during the Los Angeles riots in 1992.

THE SUPERSTAR MURDER TRIAL

With his famous line, "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit," Johnnie Cochran effectively brought down the prosecution's apparently water-tight case against former US football star OJ Simpson.

Accused of the brutal murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, OJ Simpson fled from police in a televised car chase as the world watched, and remained transfixed as evidence implicated him in the killings.

Enter Johnnie Cochran, who worked to undermine the credibility of a key police detective, Mark Fuhrman, exposed as a racist who wanted OJ Simpson convicted.

When Cochran showed that a bloody glove found at the suspect's home did not fit Mr Simpson, the case all but collapsed.

"Maybe you are the right people at the right time in the right place to say: 'No more'," Cochrane told the largely black jury, in a closing argument many said played the "race card" too strongly.

The lawyer, now a national celebrity, had a swift retort: "We choose to call it the credibility card."

RAPPERS IN TROUBLE

Johnnie Cochran (r) with Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs in 2000
Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs was a huge star when he hired Cochran
During the 1990s Cochran defended a string of troubled US rap stars.

In 1994 he failed to keep Tupac Shakur out of jail, seeing his client convicted of sexually abusing a woman he invited to his hotel room. Shakur was sentenced to four and a half years.

Cochran did secure acquittals on sodomy and weapons charges.

He successfully defended Snoop Doggy Dogg in 1996 when the chart-topping rapper was accused of being an accessory to murder.

And Cochran was back in demand in 2001 when Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs faced weapons charges after a shooting incident at a Manhattan nightclub.

Combs was arrested alongside his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez and accused of trying to bribe his way out of serious trouble.

Securing an acquittal, Cochran reprised his famous line to the OJ Simpson jury, this time claiming: "If it don't make sense, you should find for the defence."




SEE ALSO
Key OJ Simpson trial lawyer dies
30 Mar 05 |  Americas
OJ's lawyer hired in Pooh battle
01 Dec 03 |  Business
OJ trial sparked abuse campaign
14 Jun 03 |  Americas
No reality show for OJ Simpson
25 Apr 03 |  Entertainment
OJ's DNA given to museum
29 May 02 |  Americas
Simpson loses film battle
07 Sep 00 |  Entertainment

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