January 25, 2006

LA names school after O.J. lawyer Johnnie Cochran

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles has renamed a public
school after Johnnie Cochran, the late criminal defense lawyer
who helped clear "Trial of the Century" murder defendant O.J.

School district officials voted unanimously for the name
change on Tuesday, saying Cochran, who attended the former Mt.
Vernon Middle School as a boy, was an "extraordinary, superb
lawyer with movie-star celebrity status."

But the sister of Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson,
whom the former star football player and actor was charged with
stabbing and slashing to death, said she was stunned by the

"It's in bad taste," Denise Brown told Reuters. "Yeah, he
was a great defense attorney. But what about your moral
obligation to children and society?"

Cochran, who died last year of a brain tumor at age 67, was
the lead attorney for Simpson. He accused Los Angeles police of
framing his client because he was black and famously told the
jury, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," in reference to a
bloody glove found at Simpson's house.

Simpson was charged with the 1994 killing of his ex-wife
and her friend, Ron Goldman, in a court case dubbed the "Trial
of the Century" by U.S. media.

He was acquitted for the murders in 1995 in a verdict that
deeply split the country along racial lines. In 1997 a civil
court jury held Simpson liable for the deaths and ordered him
to pay $33.5 million in damages to the families of the victims.

Cochran also represented Michael Jackson when the pop star
was accused of child molestation in the mid-1990s.