NAACP Mourns The Death Of Attorney Johnnie Cochran

Noted attorney was more than a lawyer for celebrities

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) mourns the passing of legendary attorney Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., who became famous for successfully defending O.J. Simpson, but who also had a distinguished record both as a civil rights attorney and a humanitarian.

NAACP Interim President & CEO Dennis Courtland Hayes said, "Johnnie was more than a lawyer for the stars. He served on the NAACP Legal Advisory Committee and was always available for advice and counsel." Hayes, who was the NAACP General Counsel for more than 14 years, said, "Cochran was an outstanding defense attorney who remained committed to the goal of social justice. He will surely be missed." In 1999, the NAACP Legal Department presented Cochran with the Charles Hamilton Houston Pioneer Award. Other recipients of this award include federal Judges A. Leon Higginbotham and Robert Carter.

A family spokesman announced Cochran's passing yesterday after suffering from a brain tumor. "Certainly, Johnnie's career will be noted as one marked by celebrity cases and clientele, but he and his family were most proud of the work he did on behalf of those in the community," the spokesman said. Cochran, 67, died in his Los Angeles home. In his autobiography, A Lawyer's Life," Cochran said he was inspired to become a lawyer by the example set by NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall, who later became a Supreme Court Justice.

Cochran defended Simpson in 1995 when the football star was acquitted of murder charges. But Cochran had a long record of challenging misconduct by the Los Angeles Police Department. He was known as a skillful litigator who defended the famous and the obscure. Cochran's success is credited with improving the public's perception of African American lawyers.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

CONTACT: NAACP Office of Communications 410.580.5125

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