(1937 - 2005)
For Johnny Cochran, OJ 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 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." Johnny 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 said. By the time Simpson called, the byword in the black community for defendants facing serious charges was: "Get Johnnie."
After Simpson's acquittal, Johnny appeared on countless TV talk shows, was awarded his own Court TV show, traveled the world over giving speeches, and was endlessly parodied in films and on such TV shows as "Seinfeld" and "South Park." He enjoyed that parody so much he even quoted it in his autobiography. "It was fun. At times it was a lot of fun," he said of the lampooning he received. "And I knew that accepting it good-naturedly, even participating in it, helped soothe some of the angry feelings from the Simpson case."
Over the years, Johnny represented football great Jim Brown on rape and assault charges, actor Todd Bridges on attempted murder charges, rapper Tupac Shakur on a weapons charge, and rapper Snoop Dogg on a murder charge. He also represented former Black Panther Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, who spent 27 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit. When he helped Pratt win his freedom in 1997 Johnny called the moment "the happiest day of my life practicing law."