O.J. Lawyer Johnnie Cochran Dies at 67
03/29/2005 AT 07:10 PM EST
Cochran is best known for being part of the "dream team" of lawyers who successfully defended O.J. Simpson in his 1995 double-murder trial.
It was Cochran who famously told the jury after Simpson tried on a bloody glove allegedly worn by the killer, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."
Simpson was acquitted of killing Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.
Hearing of Cochran's death, Simpson told CNN: "I loved him as a good Christian man. I look at Johnnie as a great Christian. I knew him as that. He was a great guy."
Last year Cochran was hospitalized for tests and evaluation of a previously diagnosed neurological condition. At the time, his family requested that the nature of the condition, which was described as not life-threatening, remain private.
In addition to Simpson, Cochran's celebrity clients have included Michael Jackson and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs. Of the rapper, whom he successfully defended on weapons charges, Cochran told PEOPLE in 2001: "He's more like a son to me."
Reached by PEOPLE, Combs said of his former attorney: "Johnnie Cochran was one of the most beautiful people I've ever met. Not only was he one of the world's greatest lawyers...he was such a man of integrity and loyalty, he's going to be truly missed."
Cochran gained early attention as an advocate for victims of police abuse. He represented the family of college football star Ron Settles, who was arrested in 1981 and found dead in his jail cell. Cochran proved Settles died as a result of a police chokehold.
He also represented Black Panther Party leader and Vietnam War veteran Geronimo Pratt on a murder charge in 1972. He lost the case, but the verdict against Pratt was reversed nearly 30 years later.
Cochran also worked on the case of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant brutalized by New York City police, and helped win him an $8.75 million settlement.
The Loyola University School of Law graduate was Deputy City Attorney for Los Angeles in the 1980s and later founded the private firm of Cochran, Atkins & Evans.
Defense attorney Mark Geragos, who briefly shared duties as Jackson's co-counsel with Cochran, described his colleague as "a gentleman."
"Practicing law in L.A. won't be the same without Johnnie. We're all going to miss him."