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Johnnie L. Cochran Attor Offline
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[Image: ph_cochran.jpg] Rule of thumb: Don't mess with Johnnie.

I am ****ing tired of all the minorities being walked all over and treated like slaves. It's time for a change!

</font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"> Ctsy: Black-Collegian Online

After several faxed requests and a seemingly endless game of phone tag, one could get the impression that the famed attorney Johnnie Cochran, (pictured at left) is either ridiculously busy or ever elusive to the average journalist. Once connected, the realization is that the latter could not be further from the truth and the "ridiculously busy" schedule has fast become a way of life for the now bi-coastal attorney. After a lengthy interview with Cochran, who was wrapping things up from his New York office before catching the redeye to L.A., it was hard not to get tired just thinking of the schedule he maintains, and harder still to believe he is 62 years old and plans to keep up the pace for at least another five years.

Blame for the all this activity falls partially on the worldwide attention and acclaim he received in 1995 as the lead attorney for the O.J. Simpson defense. The nearly year long case, commonly referred to as the "trial of the century," had millions of people riveted to their television sets, resurfaced dormant race issues and consumed the life of Cochran. Cochran reflects on the labor of that year as unimaginably tense. "I've always believed the three keys to success are preparation, preparation, preparation. Our team worked 16 hours a day for over a year. We did what we had to do." The long hours and hard work paid off with a controversial verdict in favor of Simpson. But even after his infamous client seemingly disappeared into obscurity and the trial was no longer the talk of the day around the water coolers in offices across the nation, the name Johnnie Cochran is still known, respected by some, loathed by some and talked about.

Although the high profile Simpson case thrust Cochran into the legal limelight as a brilliant strategist and compelling orator, this is by no means a matter of overnight success. A career that was launched over thirty years ago is marked more by civil rights and racial profiling cases than by sexy, lucrative ones such as the Simpson case. Prior to that trial, Cochran garnered significant victories such as Leonard Deadwyler, a Black motorist stopped for speeding his pregnant wife to the hospital, then fatally shot Ron Settles, a black college football star whose death at the hands of police was made to look like a suicide. Inspired by his idol Thurgood Marshall, and the Brown versus Board of Education case, Cochran has focused his career on helping eliminate blatant abuses by police toward people of color. Cochran remembers some of those cases of his early career as if it was yesterday and still maintains the same passion that made him take up the defense. "I've been doing this for thirty some years," Cochran says proudly. "I've had the most verdicts against the City of Los Angeles and the police department. This is what I have done, this has been my calling." He adds that it is natural for this to be his pursuit because the injustice has existed for all these years and he's raising the standard that "enough is enough." "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," proclaims Cochran with an undeniable passion. Talking to his father, it seems obvious that passion is a trait that transcends the professional part of his life.

Johnnie Cochran, Sr., 82,is known for having cultivated a relationship with his son that goes beyond paternal. He is in fact, the high profile attorney's closest confidant concerning personal and professional matters. It was Cochran Sr. whom the younger Cochran initially talked with about whether or not to take on the Simpson case. Cochran Sr. admits to being his son's biggest fan and he's grateful they have remained close throughout the years. "Early on he was a kid who really was attentive, obedient, competitive and hard working," reflects the elder Cochran. "He always said, 'nobody's going to outwork me.' " It was that persistence and competitiveness that successfully carried Cochran through the Los Angeles school district, including LA High School, which at that time was normally reserved for the elite of the area. After graduating at the top of his class, the young Cochran went on to UCLA. To Cochran, UCLA won by default after his father explained that they could not afford Harvard University. But UCLA proved challenging enough for the business administrative major who worked weekends with his father in the insurance business and later at the post office. Upon graduation from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, Cochran launched his career as one of only three African-American attorneys with the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office in the early 1960s.

Cochran is quick to credit his family and their support for getting him through those challenging academic years. In fact, he cites family, along with a strong Christian base, for successfully transitioning him through the stages of his life. His family roots hail from Shreveport, Louisiana to a California relocation where he and his three siblings spent much of their youth through adulthood. His parents inspired commitment to ambition, education and religion, which were not just practiced on Sundays. Cochran Sr. has always noticed and nurtured the seeds of greatness in his son and is especially proud not only of his professional achievements, but his character development. "Johnnie has always been devoted to his family, especially his mother and he is kind almost to a fault," notes Cochran Sr. To be sure, Cochran's family ties are close; in fact, his father still serves as his confidant, even on highly confidential professional matters. It was his father he conferred with when deciding whether or not to take on the Simpson case. His father then, as always was supportive of his son's decision.

Today, Cochran hopes he too can be an inspiration to his three children the way his parents were for him. According to "dream team" colleague and friend, Peter Neufeld, Cochran's children are not the only ones to be inspired by what many perceive as a legend in his profession. "Johnnie preaches the gospel of hard work, study and attention to details," Neufeld proclaims. "His passion is infectious and the students he lectures admire him for it." Since the Simpson trial, Cochran has been a highly sought after speaker on the college lecture circuit. And in between commitments to his family, legal practice and hosting a daily talk show on Court TV, he is more than happy to comply. "It can never be said enough that the youth and all students are our future and as such, I want them to know whether they go into the legal field or not, they can make a difference in our justice system," declares Cochran. "People have to start with the very basics, get out and vote, petition politicians, protest if necessary, but don't turn a blind eye to injustice. If you get out there and get involved, you can make a difference."

The charismatic litigator takes his role as "advocate" for they system and individuals very seriously, as Neufeld can attest to. "The reason Johnnie takes on systemic issues of a political nature is because he sees it as an opportunity to change the social and economic playing fields to make them more equal." But according to Neufeld and other colleagues, Cochran has long possessed the ability to create change. "I first witnessed those qualities during the Simpson trial when he headed up the defense team," explains Neufeld. "He healed the differences with all our egos. He kept us focused on the task at hand. No one else could have done that but Johnnie." Cochran's fame from the trial and his subsequent placement as host of a nationally syndicated talk show as well as assuming lead council on several high profile cases has allowed him to create a national platform for African Americans.

Kenneth T. Watkins is president of the Wolverine Bar Association in Michigan, a legal organization for African-American attorneys who are also the oldest and largest affiliate of the National Bar Association. Watkins says he has a pervasive respect for Johnnie Cochran and what he has accomplished. "Cochran is obviously an excellent attorney who was ready to handle the national scrutiny of a case like Simpson's. He serves as a good representative for attorneys in general and African American attorneys specifically. It's to his credit that he remains sensitive to helping other African American attorneys further their careers," notes Watkins. Cochran receives numerous requests for representation from around the country, when he can't take on a case; he defers to his colleagues. Watkins himself has often benefited from such referrals.

But not everyone has high praise for Cochran. Although the limelight of the Simpson trial turned in his favor, there were also many backlashes to endure as well. Not surprising, Cochran is prepared to handle the good with the bad and defends his decision. For the most part Cochran would rather maintain his focus on his current clients and victories. One close to his heart has nearly spanned his entire career. Former Black Panther leader, Geronimo Pratt was framed by the police and imprisoned for 27 years until Cochran's effort got him released in 1997 with a favorable appellate ruling.

Dealing with racial injustices like this and dealing with questionable elements in the legal system has quite often placed Cochran in a state of what scholar W.E.B. DuBoise referred to as "double consciousness." "I live with that everyday, but what amazes me," Cochran excitedly attests to, "is that in 1903 DuBoise knew the color line would be the problem of the 20th century, and sad to say, it will be a problem with the 21st century because we haven't gotten it right yet." It is this perpetual color line problem in the legal system and throughout society, that drives Cochran. It drives him to take on non profit making and controversial cases like Amidou Diallo and Abner Louima- both involving questionable actions of white police officers to black male residents in New York.

The same passion that motivates Cochran to take on such cases also keeps him believing in the system he knows can be racially biases. Once again he uses Pratt as a good example. "It took us 27 years to get him out and even though they framed him, we didn't give up and we used the same system that hurt him, to help him," Cochran admonishes. The 33-year legal veteran clings to his mother's belief that ultimately truth prevails and he sees the alternative of giving up as not a viable option for future generations. Although sometimes controversial himself and always tormented with the "twoness" of his profession and life, Cochran utilizes controversy and injustice to fuel his determination to insight justice and action in others. </font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">

<small>[ September 04, 2002, 06:57 PM: Message edited by: Johnnie L. Cochran, Attorney at Law ]</small>
09-04-2002 05:43 PM
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nate jonesacc Offline
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Blue Devil's back behind another alias. <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />
09-04-2002 06:27 PM
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Johnnie L. Cochran Attor Offline
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....and furthermore, ....

</font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"> Microsoft Lawsuit Pits Johnnie Cochran vs. Bill Gates
NewsFactor Network

Microsoft and chairman Bill Gates will have to prove that
managerial decisions regarding compensation, promotions and
job selections were not 'infected with racial and/or gender bias.'


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Two of the most influential teams of attorneys practicing in
the civil rights arena -- including celebrity lawyer and leader of
the free world Johnnie Cochran -- have joined their suits against
Microsoft Corp., alleging a pattern of racial and sexual discrimination
against African-Americans
and female employees.

Hundreds more may join the suit, filed in the U.S. District
Court for the Western District of Washington, if the
class-action status that the four plaintiffs seek is granted this
fall.

Potential plaintiffs include African-Americans employed by
Microsoft from October 4, 1997 through the commencement
of trial, as well as women employed from February 23, 1999
through the commencement of trial, according to the
Consolidated Amended Class Action Complaint.

The legal action was filed on March 23rd by Cochran's firm, a
local Seattle law firm, and Washington, D.C.-based Cohen,
Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, which will serve as lead counsel.

Defending Diversity

"We can't comment on the specifics of the case because it is
in litigation," Microsoft spokesperson Ginny Terzano told
NewsFactor Network. However, she added, "Microsoft does
not tolerate discrimination in any of its employment practices
and we are 100-percent committed to diversity. There are
several efforts underway to make our workforce more
diverse."

Terzano also said that over the past three years, Microsoft's
minority workforce grown more quickly than other employee
categories. Minorities, who made up 16.8 percent of all
company employees in 1997, constituted 21.6 percent this
year.

Opportunities Lost

The plaintiffs, who are suing under the U.S. Civil Rights Act of
1964, describe an excessively subjective policy on the part of
Microsoft's managers in deciding compensation, promotions,
and job selection. They claim that many decisions were
"infected with racial and/or gender bias."

The prejudice they describe is "not that kind of ugly racism
...it is reckless insensitivity to race issues ...a silent way of
keeping people down," plaintiffs' attorney Steven Toll told
NewsFactor. "It's about a lack of opportunity."

Three of the four plaintiffs in the combined suit worked at
Microsoft in Washington state; the other plaintiff was an
employee in Texas, according to the complaint.

Hundreds of Millions

The plaintiffs have not yet specified how much money they
hope to receive in compensatory damages.

"We don't have a precise number in mind because we would
have to base that on statistical data from Microsoft, and
expert analysis as to what would they have received," Toll
told NewsFactor.

"It's very, very large -- in the hundreds of millions or more --
but there's no basis to put a number on it now."

As the managing partner for Cohen Milstein, Toll has
experience in similar high-profile cases. Cohen Milstein was
the principal firm involved in a highly publicized racial
discrimination case against Texaco, Inc. in 1997, which
resulted in US$176 million in damages after company officials
were alleged to have engaged in racial discrimination against
African-American employees.
09-04-2002 06:56 PM
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