Years after the glove didn't fit and we had to acquit, countless Larry King Live appearances and actor Phil Morris' career zenith with the Seinfeld Jackie Chiles parody, Johnnie Cochran Jr. is coming back to Orange County to right an alleged racial injustice.
OK, so Mr. Cochran departed for that Great Ambulance Chase in the Sky back in 2005, but The Cochran Firm he started 40 years ago will represent the family of Julian Alexander, the 20-year-old newlywed and father-to-be who was mistakenly gunned down by an Anaheim police officer four weeks ago.
According to a media advisory faxed to World Weekly HQ this afternoon, a claim for damages and commencement for litigation against the city of Anaheim was filed today "arising out of the wrongful and unjustifiable shooting death of Justin Alexander, an innocent victim of a wrongful police shooting, shot dead in his yard on Oct. 28, 2008."
No damage amount being sought is cited. Cochran attorneys Brian Dunn and Joseph Barrett are representing the family.
Orange County was the site of what Cochran called "the happiest day" in his legal career. That would have been the release of Geronimo Pratt. Pratt, a former high ranking Black Panther and the godfather to the late Tupac Shakur, was convicted of murder in the 1972 shooting death of a 27-year-old elementary schoolteacher Carole Olsen on a Santa Monica tennis court. Cochran, one of the two original defense lawyers on the case, worked for years to get the conviction reversed on grounds that the key witness against Pratt was a longtime snitch for the LAPD and FBI.
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The defense successfully got the case moved to a new jurisdiction--the Orange County Superior courtroom of conservative Republican Judge Everett Dickey. The conviction was finally vacated in 1997 and an appeals court ordered a new trial two years later, but the L.A. County district attorney instead dropped the case in light of Pratt having already served 27 years behind bars.
Once freed, Pratt became an activist for the wrongfully convicted.
Another OC tie to Cochran would be O.J. Simpson's white bronco whizzing along the 5 freeway bound for the border--something Clockwork totally missed amid the chills and thrills of a day at Disneyland. There is, of course, the family of Nicole Brown Simpson being from down here, too. But surely there must be other local Cochran connections.