If you don’t know the name Johnnie Cochran, you likely will soon. The defense lawyer’s controversial role in the O.J. Simpson trial is set to be portrayed on ‘American Crime Story,’ which premieres February 2. Before watching the show, get to know more about Johnnie below!
Despite being on trial for murder in 1994, O.J. Simpson is living his life as a free man thanks to Johnnie Cochran and his incredible talent. Johnnie, who passed away in 2005 at 67 years old, served as the primary defense lawyer for O.J. in the most publicized criminal trial in United States history. The new series American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson will show Johnnie’s major role in the trial, but we have five more things you should know about him right here!
1. He became a lawyer because of the ‘Brown v. Board of Education’ case.
Johnnie was inspired by Thurgood Marshall and his win in the historical case, which is what convinced Johnnie that was destined to practice law himself. He was determined to make a difference in the way Thurgood did.
2. He used a phrase in the O.J. trial that is practically as famous as he is.
After O.J. tried on bloodied gloves that prosecutors claimed were used in the murder and they didn’t fit him, Johnnie stated, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Although fellow defense team member Gerald Uelmen is credited with coming up with the phrase, Johnnie was the one who actually declared it during the trial.
3. O.J. wasn’t the only celebrity Johnnie represented.
Because of his success in the courtroom, Johnnie was deemed a “go-to” lawyer for troubled athletes and other famous people. He helped arrange an out-of-court settlement for Michael Jackson when he was accused of child molestation, and won an acquitter for Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs after he was indicted on bribery and stolen weapons. Other clients include Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, and actor Todd Bridges.
4. Despite his famous clients, he insisted that he was a lawyer for everyone.
Johnnie often said the he worked “not only for the OJs, but also the No Js,” meaning he liked to represent anyone no matter if they were high-profile or not. In fact, he helped a Haitian immigrant win $8.75 million in one case!
5. He didn’t consider his O.J. win the highlight of his career.
Before Johnnie helped O.J. escape life in prison, he won the freedom of Geronimo Pratt, a Black Panther member who spent 27 years in jail for murder. Geronimo was released in 1997 thanks to Johnnie’s help, and Johnnie called it “the happiest day of my life practicing law.”
What do you think about Johnnie’s role in the O.J. Simpson trial, HollywoodLifers? Will you be watching American Crime Story? Tell us below!