The man responsible for letting a murderer go free, for exacerbating racial tensions in America, and for making the use of race as a defense acceptable rather than ridiculous, has died:
Famed attorney Johnnie Cochran, 67, perhaps best known for his defense of O.J. Simpson, died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles.
“Johnnie Cochran was a loving, heartful human being who cared about everybody,” said Pastor William Epps of the Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles, which Cochran attended for 18 years.
Everybody, that is, except Nicole Brown Simpson. I think everything that Johnnie Cochran did to America can be summed up by one line in a Chapelle’s Show skit. Dave Chapelle is being questioned as a potential jury member in the O.J. trial, and is asked by the prosecution if, considering the plethora of evidence against Simpson, he believes him to be guilty. Chapelle replies, “My blackness forbids me from answering that question.” Just when America was starting to heal from the wounds of Jim Crow and, more recently, Rodney King, Cochran had to take what would have been a typical murder trial and made it about the fact that the defendant was African-American, ripping whatever chance we had of becoming a color-blind country apar. Moreover, being a lawyer, even a defense lawyer, is about pursuing the truth. Cochran took an obviously guilty client and got him off scot-free. This isn’t pursuing the truth; this is pursuing cash. Cochran was a disgrace to the legal profession, and did more damage to race relations in the United States than anyone since George Wallace.