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Johnnie Cochran Remembered

Aired March 29, 2005 - 21:00   ET


JOHNNIE COCHRAN: If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, legendary lawyer Johnnie Cochran is dead at age 67. We'll have exclusive first reaction from his one- time client, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, plus Johnnie Cochran's friends, like CNN Headline Prime's Nancy Grace, his former Court TV co-host; attorney Ben Brafman, Cochran's co-counsel on the P. Diddy case; attorney Barry Scheck, a member of Cochran's O.J. Simpson dream team; William Epps, Johnnie Cochran's pastor for 18 years; and Chris Darden, one of Cochran's opponents on the O.J. Simpson case, still his friend.

And then later, Terri Schiavo's 12th day without her feeding tube. Renowned civil-rights activist, Reverend Jesse Jackson visited her hospice to show support for her family today, calls her ordeal one of the most profound moral and ethical issues of our time. We'll have all the latest and then Reverend Jackson and more, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Also with us in New York is Reverend Al Sharpton, a friend of Johnnie Cochran; in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Barry Scheck, the friend and colleague of Johnnie Cochran; and in Boston, Dr. Henry Lee, also close friend of Johnnie Cochran's, who worked for Johnnie in the Simpson case.

But we have with us on the phone, Johnnie Cochran, Jr. Are you there, Johnnie? Johnnie Cochran, Sr., are you there?


KING: So you are what in relation to Johnnie Cochran, Jr.?

JOHNNIE COCHRAN, SR.: Yes, I'm his father, thank you.

KING: How old are you, sir?

JOHNNIE COCHRAN, SR.: I'm 80 years old, thank you.

KING: Were you with him at his death?

JOHNNIE COCHRAN, SR.: I was two minutes behind. I ran out to take care of a little business, and I got in two minutes. KING: Did you know the end was coming?

JOHNNIE COCHRAN, SR.: I did. This morning when I got up, I was doing my sleep last night. The good Lord revealed to me that the day would be the day that Johnnie would come home.

KING: I spoke with his wife, Dale, about an hour ago, Johnnie. And she told me that he died bravely and with the entire family there, and he died courageously.

JOHNNIE COCHRAN, SR.: He did. Not one complaint by Johnnie during his entire illness. We never did we hear one complaint of anything. And he did not suffer pain or discomfort. The doctor was with us yesterday. And he just assured us of this over and over that Johnnie was not experiencing any pain.

KING: The brain tumor happened about what, about a year ago?

JOHNNIE COCHRAN, SR.: About a year, January of 2004.

KING: And he had surgery, right? It was removed?

JOHNNIE COCHRAN, SR.: He had surgery. I believe, not sure, but I believe the tumor was inoperable, I believe.

KING: But he had some surgery for the...

JOHNNIE COCHRAN, SR.: He had some surgery, yes.

KING: And then he spent a lot of time in the hospital, then most of this past year at home, right?

JOHNNIE COCHRAN, SR.: Yes, spent most of the time -- yes, spent most of the past year at home. From time-to-time, the tabloids would say Johnnie's in the hospital, but Johnnie's been home.

KING: And do we know -- Dale didn't know an hour ago -- anything about any funeral arrangements?

JOHNNIE COCHRAN, SR.: No, we have not talked about funeral arrangements yet.

KING: What do you want to say about your son, sir?

JOHNNIE COCHRAN, SR.: Larry, I would just say Johnnie was a fine young man. He grew up from his birth and on up as a young man. He made good decisions.

One of the things I would tell young people about is that he chose good friends. He chose friends that wanted to do something with their life. And that stood him in well, you know. Parents many times will have children and they might make bad choices and choose bad friends, and they can get them in a lot of trouble, but Johnnie did not do that.

And he just had ambitions all the time. He knew he wanted to be a lawyer. His mother wanted him to be a doctor. He and his mother were really close, very close. And she wanted him to be a doctor. But he said, "Nope, I want to be a lawyer."

KING: Well, Johnnie, you have a lot to be proud of.

JOHNNIE COCHRAN, SR.: Thank you so much.

KING: Thank you for joining us.

JOHNNIE COCHRAN, SR.: Thank you for asking me, too.

KING: My pleasure. Johnnie Cochran, Sr., the father of Johnnie Cochran, Jr.

Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, he represented you. What was he like as a lawyer?

SEAN "P. DIDDY" COMBS, MUSIC PRODUCER: I mean, he was one of the greatest lawyers, you know, in the world. One of the reasons why I'm able to be out here doing the positive things that I'm doing is because he fought for my innocence. He fought for my freedom. And this is the type of person he was. He stood for justice, integrity. He was such a man of grace.

And the way he became my lawyer was I reached out to him. He was on vacation. And we didn't really know each other previously. We heard of each other. He stopped what he was doing, and he treated me like family.

He looked into my eyes. He heard my story, saw I was innocent. And when he believed in you, he would go all the way for you. And he was somebody that -- you know, I called him Uncle Johnnie, because that's how close he had became to me. And he had became more than a lawyer representing me. He was like a family member.

You know, we had spent New Year's together at St. Bart's. His wife, Dale, had become close with my mother. And it's just like -- him, just as a lawyer, it was like -- if you knew him, it was bigger than that. You never looked at him, you know, really as a lawyer. His smile, his gleaming smile, his personality, he was just so positive, so beautiful.

He was like one of the most beautiful people that, you know, I've ever had the privilege to meet. And I'm just sad and I'm in shock. And my prayers go out to Dale, Jonathan and his daughters, Tiffany and Melody.

KING: Sean, did you know how ill he was?

COMBS: He came to see me on Broadway in "A Raisin in the Sun."

KING: He did?

COMBS: Yes, he came to see me. He had snuck in to come to see me. I know that he wasn't out. I know that his illness wasn't, you know, really out there like that. And he came sick to see me. And it had touched me. And it had blew me away.

I couldn't believe that he had came out in his condition to see me. And we spent a little bit of time together. And then, you know, like a couple of weeks ago, I called him. And I was talking to him on the phone, but he couldn't really talk back.

One thing about him, he was a talker. And so to hear him not talking, it like hurt my heart, you know? Because that's one thing about him. He loved to talk, now. You know, that's one thing, he loved to make people laugh. He loved to talk to you. He loved to uplift you.

And one thing I must say about that man, I met a lot of people during my time, during my couple of years here on Earth, you know, and being successful. He's never asked me for nothing. You know, he came and he saved my life. And I would always have to, like, check in on him and, you know, he wasn't that type of person. You know, he was the person always trying to give.

KING: You know, Sean, I never heard -- I knew he was bedridden -- that he left to fly to New York to come see you do that play.

COMBS: I don't know if he actually flew to New York. But he came and his wife said he wouldn't miss it. And to see him in that state, I know that -- I know that nobody really saw him in that state, because it was such a shock. And I had came, and he was backstage, I was just like blown away that he would come out in that state.

You know, but that's the way -- once he came into my life, you know, he was there all the way. And you know, anything that I could have been there for him for, that's the way it was. He was that type of person, that if he came into your life, it's like you all became family, if he believed. I mean, at least with me, that's the way it was.

KING: Sean, if you can...

COMBS: And his wife, and his sons and his whole family is the same way, such integrity.

KING: If you can, will you try to attend the funeral when it's announced?

COMBS: Oh, yes. Yes, yes, I will definitely try to. And I'm there for the family. I'll do whatever, the way he's been there for me, from now until forever. That's the way he's touched me.

KING: Thank you, Sean.

COMBS: Yes, thank you. God bless.

KING: Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, who was represented by Johnnie Cochran.

Johnnie, a phrase he made famous, and then made many appearances on this show, watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You ever sorry you were a lawyer?

COCHRAN: No, I love it. Every morning when I get up, when I look at all the choices of things I can be -- I love being a lawyer, because it gives you an opportunity to do interesting things. It gives me an opportunity to, you know, represent people who are injured. It gives me an opportunity to represent people who I believe are innocent. It gives me an opportunity -- if I want to go into politics or whatever. So for young kids out there, it's a great career.




COCHRAN: I'm going to put this knit cap on. You've been seeing me for a year. If I put this knit cap on, who am I? I'm still Johnnie Cochran with a knit cap. And if you look at O.J. Simpson over there -- and he has a rather large head -- O.J. Simpson, in a knit cap, from two blocks away is still O.J. Simpson. It's no disguise, it's no disguise, it makes no sense. It doesn't fit. If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.

KING: How long did you think about that line?

COCHRAN: Well, we had started thinking about that line during the trial, because we thought that a lot of evidence didn't make sense and it didn't fit. And then when the glove demonstration came about, it was clear to us at that point that we didn't think the gloves fit, either. So it was a natural segue way.


KING: Nancy Grace, what do you remember most about your late friend?

NANCY GRACE, CNN HEADLINE NEWS HOST: Well, I gave him a lot of grief about, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." And that never let up.

You know, Larry, when I first started my first TV show, it was "Cochran and Grace."

KING: I remember it well.

GRACE: When I first met Johnnie -- yes -- when I first met Johnnie, we sat on a panel of legal experts. I sat between him and Roy Black. And we got into a huge argument. Can you imagine that, Larry?

KING: Yes. GRACE: And the three of us, you know we argued for a straight hour. And we had a good time. And after that, I was approached to do a show with him.

And, Larry, here he was, this big star with the world by the tail, straight off the O.J. Simpson victory, and I was this prosecutor out of Atlanta. Nobody had ever heard of me. Larry, he never treated me that way. He never treated me like I was not his equal.

When my mom would come up and visit from Macon, he was so kind to her. And I had been mad at him through the whole O.J. Simpson trial. I thought he was the one that committed double murder. But, Larry, when I got to know him, I saw what a lot of juries saw in Johnnie Cochran.

KING: Which was?

GRACE: Larry, he was so decent to so many people. He treated the cleaning lady at the building the same as he treated the boss over at Court TV. He could be with the taxi driver or Bill Cosby, or a big star like you. He could be with anybody and still be the same Johnnie Cochran.

I went with him to the inauguration of Clinton. That was when we had our show. And people loved him. As I was walking along, they would just throng him. And everybody would say, "Hey, did your man do it? Did your man, Simpson, do it?" And he would smile and he'd say, "The jury acquitted him," which of course, you know, nearly killed me. But he was just as smooth as they come.

KING: I'll tell you something about him, too, on a personal level. One of his last appearances was on this program. And he had been offered a job by NBC to be their sort of legal guy, be on "The Today Show" and other NBC programs, with a contract and, of course, be paid for it.

And he said, "I will do it under one condition, that I can still do LARRY KING LIVE." And that's the kind of loyal guy he was.

I know, Nancy, you're leaving us after this segment. Was he a great lawyer?

GRACE: You know, Larry, Johnnie Cochran will go down in history, not only as a great lawyer, as a great orator -- this was a man that could charm a bird out of a tree. He would have the jury sitting on the edge of their seat. When he walked into a room, Larry, he had that "it" thing. Everybody turned around and looked. But he will also go down in history as a great friend and husband.

KING: Thank you, Nancy. Thanks for sharing this with us. Nancy Grace, co-hosted with Cochran on "Cochran and Grace" on Court TV, the host of NANCY GRACE on CNN Headline News.

Pastor William Epps of the Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles -- Johnnie Cochran attended that church for 18 years -- has statement from the family. PASTOR WILLIAMS EPPS, SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH, LOS ANGELES: The statement the family released today is, "The family of attorney Johnnie Cochran, Jr., and members of the Cochran Firm are deeply saddened by the passing of Johnnie Cochran, Jr.

"The world has lost not only a legendary attorney but an outstanding humanitarian. He passed away at his home today at 12:30 of a brain tumor. Certainly, Johnnie's career will be noted as one marked by celebrity cases and clientele. But he and his family were most proud of the work he did on behalf of those in the community.

"As Johnnie always said, an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It was his rallying cry. And he worked to right many wrongs. And as he provided a voice to those who needed to be heard, he was deeply committed to helping and inspiring others, especially young people. His extraordinary law career will undoubtedly stand the test of time. But it was his devotion to his fellow human beings that will remain as his true legacy.

"Funeral arrangements will be announced later."

KING: Ben Brafman, what was it like to be his co-counsel?

BEN BRAFMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it's hard to just tell you the run of emotions that come through me. I'm saddened by the loss of someone who became a great friend. And that's really, I think, the key to Johnnie Cochran. I think you could hear the pain in Puffy's voice, and I hope you can hear it in mine. Because it wasn't just co- counsel. We became very, very close.

Here were two people who really didn't know each other. And because of his kindness, and his class, and his friendship, and his generosity, I came to love him. And we became very, very close friends. He's a masterful lawyer, but he's even more masterful as a human being.

And I think he should be remembered not just as a wonderful, brilliant lawyer, but as a great humanitarian. And I have lost a really close, personal friend tonight. And my heart's broken. And I extend my best to his wonderful family.

KING: More with our panel as we continue along on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE on this sad day. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury in the above entitled action, find the defendant, Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty of the crime of murder in violation of Penal Code Section 187(a), a felony, upon on Nicole Brown Simpson, a human being, as charged in Count I of the information.




KING: With us on the phone now is O.J. Simpson.

How are you?

O.J. SIMPSON, CLIENT OF JOHNNIE COCHRAN: I'm doing fine. And one, I want to thank you, you know, a lot, because so many of my friends have told me that you've been fair in hosting your show and bringing the points of view from both sides. I want to thank Mr. Calhoun for taking the time out of his life.

I know it had to be tough for him. And most of all, I want to thank that man, Mr. Johnnie Cochran, for believing from the beginning, listening and putting his heart and soul on the line to send me home, and to spend time that I'm spending right now with my kids.


KING: Barry Scheck, what was it like to work with Johnnie Cochran?

BARRY SCHECK, COLLEAGUE OF JOHNNIE COCHRAN: Well, you know, I don't think that people fully appreciate how great a lawyer Johnnie Cochran was. He was an incredible civil-rights lawyer from the very beginning in Los Angeles, you know, starting with this Leonard Deadwyler case, where he, you know, went up against the police in Los Angeles, won a great victory, and then went on to establish an incredible practice where he really was, you know, pushing at the edges of the envelope, in terms of civil-rights cases.

And then everybody knows what happened in the Simpson case. But I think people forget what happened afterwards. I mean, after Johnnie left the show with Nancy, which I think she describes so accurately in terms of his charm and personal decency, the first case Johnnie did was of a woman named Wiggins who died because she was hit by a bus on a freeway outside of Buffalo, because people in the inner city had to take buses from the inner city to work in shopping malls outside of Buffalo, and they didn't build a bridge over the freeway.

And Johnnie took on this case for, you know, somebody that nobody heard of, and not only won a judgment, you know, for her estate for her children, but got that bridge built and got other kinds of relief.

And Peter Neufeld and I went on to work with Johnnie on these incredible civil-rights cases, Abner Louima, where we not only got a judgment for Abner, but we got reform in the police department. The New Jersey racial profiling cases, where these four young men were shot by state troopers there. And not only did we win that case, and did the troopers eventually wind up pleading guilty to criminal charges, but there was a consent decree. And on and on it goes.

I can't begin to tell you what a brilliant, amazing lawyer he was, you know, dedicated to civil rights. And that's just really, you know, overlooked because of this big famous case we did.

KING: Al Sharpton, a friend of his, worked with him on civil rights cases. You also played him on "Saturday Night Live," did you not?

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: He was in the audience, in fact, that night. But I think what Barry just said has to be emphasized. Because when Johnnie came to New York -- I knew Johnnie in L.A. from many of his civil-rights and police cases -- but one of the first things he did was come to Harlem to House of Justice, the headquarters of the National Action Network, and began working with us on cases.

And he didn't chase cases. Abner Louima and the Diallo case, the New Jersey, for all of the cases that we worked together on, they asked us to find Johnnie Cochran. They wanted him to go there. But what most people don't know is Johnnie would refuse to settle a case unless we got reform in policing, legislation of racial profiling.

In many ways, Johnnie became the Thurgood Marshall of this time, because much of what we have been able to achieve both legislatively and in terms of reform in racial profiling, in civil rights, was because Johnnie Cochran held the line and refused, even at the cost of his own fees, to settle until there was real social change.

So for ordinary people -- they didn't have to be a big name like P. Diddy or O.J. -- for ordinary people, we lost a gallant soldier, a real warrior, who was a brand-name superstar for justice. And it will not be the same with Johnnie gone.

KING: Dr. Henry Lee, what was he like for you to work with?

DR. HENRY LEE, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Well, I want to echo Al Sharpton and Barry Scheck says. I worked with Johnnie a couple cases after O.J. The few cases I work with him, he always have a platform. He used those cases to voice the issue, a social issue or criminal justice problem.

He sees a window, he takes this window of opportunity. He gives his heart, his mind. He worked the entire case so hard to represent the people.

Personally, you know, he's so warm. He's a quick learner. He'd call you on the phone, say, "Tell me something about here." Five minutes later, he knows everything about here. He not only remember my name, he remember my wife's, my kids, my secretary. And what a beautiful person.

KING: Beautiful.

In the congregation, William Epps, what was he like?

EPPS: A very personal individual. He didn't let his celebrity status go to his head. When he would come into church, he had a favorite place where he would sit along with his family, his father and his sisters.

KING: Was he a regular churchgoer?

EPPS: A regular church-attender. He came every Sunday prior to the O.J. trial. During the O.J. trial, he came every Sunday that he possibly could. It was only after he won the O.J. trial that he was infrequent in attendance because he was traveling all around the country. But whenever he was in town, he would always come to church.

KING: Did you ever ask him to speak at church?

EPPS: Yes. We had him speak for Men's Day. Of course.

KING: He must have been eloquent.

EPPS: It was very eloquent. I mean, members at Second just loved Johnnie, because they watched him grow up there. He's been there since he was 11-years-old.

KING: Impossible not like him.

EPPS: It's impossible not to like him, absolutely right. He's just so warm, and inviting, and engaging. And he makes you feel like you're a special individual.

KING: We'll take a break. When we come back, we'll meet a man who went against him in court. Chris Darden will join us. We'll also be including your phone calls. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


COCHRAN: You have the capacity to transform Mr. O.J. Simpson's dark yesterdays into brighter tomorrows. You have that capacity. You have that power in your hand. James Russell Lowell said it best about wrong and evil. He said that, "Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne. Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, beyond the dimmer known, standeth God within the shadows keeping watch above his own."


KING: Let's check in now with a former member of the Los Angeles D.A., D.A. team that went up against Johnnie Cochran in the O.J. Simpson trial, Chris Darden. Chris, what are your thoughts tonight about your late friend?

CHRISTOPHER DARDEN, ON SIMPSON PROSECUTION TEAM, FRIEND OF COCHRAN: Well, you know, he is truly my late friend. I'm shocked, quite honestly. I was in North Carolina, at North Carolina A & T just a week or so ago, and I asked folks who I knew were friends of Johnnie's, how he was doing. And I was assured that he was doing okay, and I'm shocked. America's lost a great lawyer. Our community has lost a great lawyer.

KING: What was he like as an opponent?

DARDEN: Well, you know, much like everyone has said. I mean, this guy had savvy, and a very efficient trial lawyer. He had a tendency to do what all trial lawyers want to do, and that is command the courtroom, to command the courtroom is to command the battlefield. And he did it time and time again, and I don't see another Johnnie Cochran on the horizon.

KING: So he was what you would call -- one in a -- they don't come like this anymore?

DARDEN: No, no. Definitely old school, and -- definitely old school. But a very, very, very effective trial lawyer, and -- you know, I've seen -- I think that I've seen pretty much the best the country has to offer in some shape or form, and he clearly is one of the best, if not the best.

KING: Thanks, Chris.

Chris Darden, friend of Johnnie Cochran, his opponent in the Simpson trial.

Let's go to Atlanta and check in with Reverend Jesse Jackson. Reverend Jackson will be with us towards the end of this hour, when we talk more about the Schiavo case, but I think he wants to say something about Johnnie Cochran.


REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST, PRES. RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: You know, Larry, you've heard these outstanding comments. But before there was the O.J. Simpson trial, that was the Geronimo Pratt trial, that was the race-profiling trial, where there was really hardly any money involved. So, we knew him to be an exceptional lawyer as a trial lawyer fighting the odds. The O.J. Simpson trial gave him the platform to display his skills and to show the world he was a class lawyer.

One of the great victories he won was, part of that time, black lawyers labored under the shadows of this caricature in Amos and Andy called the "Calhoun lawyer syndrome," where this black lawyer had -- you know, shuffling his feet, always incompetent and always a step behind. No matter how great they were, except maybe somebody like Thurgood Marshall, or Houston, they labored under that. But Johnnie Cochran put on a workshop for a year and raised the bar for lawyers, black lawyers. In many ways, he redefined the stereotype, the character type of an excellent lawyer, a black lawyer and, therefore, all benefited from his excellence.

KING: Did you know him well?

JACKSON: For 25 years, and we spent a lot of time together. People like that in, of course, and down in L.A., and others on that scene. I thank God for Pastor Epps spending the night, because he was a real officer in the church, a real worker in the church. Johnnie had a real sense of religious convictions, and he was, some of it kind of a preaching lawyer. He spoke with convictions. You think about the Geronimo Pratt, O.J. Simpson, Abner Louima, P. Diddy, Michael Jackson, these are the high profile cases. But, I am most impressed with the cases he took on, where there was no profile and people had no lawyer. He became the nation's -- the people's lawyer. People in trouble, call Johnnie Cochran. He became a national frame of reference. KING: Thanks, Jesse. We'll see you again in a couple of minutes when we talk about the Schiavo case. We have a statement from Michael Jackson, who Johnnie Cochran represented. He represented him 13 years ago in that settlement case. He says, "I'm saddened to hear of the death of my friend Johnnie Cochran. I'd like to send my condolences to his family. Johnnie Cochran was a true gentleman who embodied class, brilliance, honesty and integrity. His fight for justice transcended color, age, or economic status. So many have been touched by his life of service as well as his infectious smile and personality. Johnnie Cochran was a great humanitarian. I loved him, I will miss him, and I'm proud to have called him my friend." That statement from Michael Jackson, one of the many clients represented by the late Johnnie Cochran. More after this.


KING: If you were advising him in this matter, would you advise him not to hold these parties, not to jump on cars, not to act the way they acted today?

JACKSON: Yes, I would, Larry. I think that you celebrate when you win the case and when it's over at that point. Now, this is a very serious matter, and I think they really have to understand that. And I think that, you know, Michael is an entertainer, but I think he has to understand, this is the first time he's ever been arraigned in a criminal court and maybe, not understanding fully about being late -- everybody talks about his disrespect to the court. Somebody needs to sit him down, and I think Ben is the person strong enough to do that and say, look, this is a serious proceeding. Your life's going to change over the course of the next year or so. You've got to be very serious in this.



KING: During the break I asked William Epps to explain to me how he found out about -- did Johnnie have headaches, or what led to this. What happened?

EPPS: The way it was explained to me by his father, he was in New York, in his New York office, and he had his hand on his desk and didn't answer a phone call that was sent to him by the secretary. When they went in to see what was wrong, and they shoved him to wake him up, to get his attention, it was clear that he was disoriented and didn't know where he was. So, they took him to the hospital in New York, and then they brought him back here to L.A.

KING: So, that's the first diagnosis?

EPPS: That's the first diagnosis.

KING: Red Bluff, California, hello.

CALLER: Yes, thank you. Would Mr. Cochran, who was a man of integrity for both the poor and famous equally, as well as the family, how would he like to be remembered by the American people otherwise?

KING: Ben, how do you think?

BRAFMAN: I think if Johnnie had to say, I think he'd like to be remembered as an honest man, as a kind generous citizen. I don't think Johnnie would want to be remembered simply as a brilliant lawyer. I think he was much more than that, and I think that's what he would like to be remembered as, a wonderful human being.

KING: Barry, what do you think?

SCHECK: Well, I think that's true, and he was that. I mean, I practiced law with him for 10 years, and I would say that the case that the Reverend Jackson mentioned he's most proud of, was Geronimo Pratt. The first time that I met Johnnie in Los Angeles, he told me about the Geronimo Pratt case. I remembered it, where Geronimo Pratt was a member of the Black Panther Party, he was convicted in a criminal trial. Johnnie represented him. He lost the case. Johnnie believed, knew he was innocent and he struggled for years and years to get Geronimo out of jail and exposed that the FBI had hid exculpatory information. And, you know, Pratt was an innocent man wrongly convicted. And Johnnie was able, with the work the Centurion Ministries, to get him out of prison after more than two decades and to get a civil judgment, I still don't know how he got it. He fought and fought and fought. He took these causes very seriously. It's the Pratt case, it's the civil rights cases that really were the essence of Johnnie.

KING: And Al Sharpton, if he was in your corner, your corner was well covered, right?

SHARPTON: No question about it. When Johnnie came in a case, we could all go and rest, because the legal side was covered, and he knew how to work with the activist side.

But he had integrity. I mean, don't take lightly that Reverend Epps is sitting there, because Johnnie took his religion seriously. I mean, one of the things he was most happy is that he had me preach at Second Baptist. I know Reverend Epps a long time. I think if he wanted to be remembered, his family's statement says best how he wants to be remembered, because Dale and others knew the real Johnnie Cochran. He didn't care about the celebrity. He cared most about making a difference. It's like he felt obligated to that, and he more than filled that obligation.

KING: Dr. Lee, did he understand the complexity of your science?

LEE: Yes. He's a very smart man and quick learner. Every issue, he just let the scientist talk about it, he listened carefully. In a couple of minutes, he grabbed the issue, the background, and what to challenge, what to stay away.

And I also want to add one more point. He's just a wonderful person. He -- about a year ago, he wrote a personal letter congratulating my new book. And wrote a blurb for my book. And he's (UNINTELLIGIBLE), he's still doing that. I think he is a friend of the people, he wanted to be remembered as a lawyer for the people, for the social issues.

KING: We'll be back with some more moments on Johnnie Cochran, and another phone call or two right after this.


KING: Peoria, Illinois, hello.



CALLER: I had a comment and I also had a question about Johnnie.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: When I first saw it going across the screen tonight on CNN, I called my mom right away. And I said, mom, guess what, Johnnie Cochran died. And she was like, oh, my God. And we were just like, we couldn't believe it. And she was like, I feel like I knew the man. And so what I wanted to say was, you know, the minute you hear someone speak, or you know, when you see someone, you can just -- you can tell when they're good-hearted, and you can almost feel their spirit. And that's how I feel about Johnnie.

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: I just want to know, was he like that growing up as a youngster? Was he always so sweet-spirited, and just so -- he just seemed like he was such a nice person.

KING: I guess he was, William, right?

EPPS: As far as I know, Johnnie's always been the most personable person I met.

KING: Dan, I understand you have a funny story, something about Johnnie's book?

BRAFMAN: Well, Johnnie Cochran wrote this book that I think most of America knows, it's "A Lawyer's Life." I'll tell you, two things would speak well for him. First of all, he wrote 25 pages about winning the Puff Daddy trial, and out of 24 of those pages, he just talks about me and the contribution that I made to the case.

So Nancy Grace is right. Here's this superstar being generous to a fault and helping advance the careers of others who aren't as famous as Johnnie Cochran.

But I bought him a tie as a gift, the last gift I got Johnnie Cochran. It was right after 9/11. And he's a real patriot. I got him a red, white and blue tie. And he said to me, I am going to save that tie and I am going to wear it some place special, I promise you. And then when the book came out, I had no idea. He sent me the book and he's wearing my tie. So he's a good friend. I loved him a lot and I am going to miss him very much.

KING: I know we all feel that way here at CNN about him. He was very special. I remember that day when he said he would come here, no matter what the NBC offer was. He had -- still come here, he got on the phone with Wendy Walker Whitworth, our senior executive producer, and told, assured her that he would always be here for us.

He was very extremely loyal, right, William?

EPPS: Oh yes, very loyal.

KING: Big characteristic of his.

EPPS: Big characteristic of his.

KING: He was your friend?

EPPS: My friend.

KING: He was your friend.

EPPS: That's right.

KING: Al Sharpton, are you going to try to come in -- when -- oh, by the way, Pastor Epps, the funeral, we'll know when?

EPPS: The family will be planning the funeral over the next couple of days. We'll be meeting tomorrow or day after tomorrow to talk about the exact date of the funeral.

KING: It won't be this week.

EPPS: It will not be this week.

KING: So that people can come from around the country.

EPPS: Right.

KING: Do you expect to come, Ben?

BRAFMAN: I am going to try my best. A lot depends on my court obligations in New York.

KING: Al, will you come?

SHARPTON: Oh, I will definitely be there. I remember the last time I saw him, was at Earl Graves, the publisher of Black Enterprise House. He was encouraging us, he was recovering, and we were all kind of sympathetic, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a lot of us. He was encouraging us. I remember him as having hope to the end. And I have got to be there to say goodbye to a friend, because he was always there for us.

KING: You're going to come, Barry? SCHECK: I'll be there. I have to say that this is -- these last few months, knowing how sick he's been, it broke my heart.

KING: You're going to come, Henry Lee?

LEE: I will try to come. I'm scheduled to give a lecture tour in China. But I will try every possible way to attend.

KING: Will it be at your church, William?

EPPS: Yes, I would presume, depending on what the family wants to do.

KING: Thank you all very, very much.

When we come back in our last segment, we'll talk about the Schiavo case. Don't go away.


KING: We'll spend our final moments discussing the Schiavo matter. In Atlanta is Reverend Jesse Jackson, back with us, he was with us earlier. Here in Los Angeles, George Thornally. In Denver, Colorado is Patrick Furlong. In Syracuse, New York is Reverend Barry Lynn.

Let me get to George Thornally's story first. You became completely paralyzed at age 16, possibly because of polio, assumed you would either die or survive as a vegetable. You survived, recovered, wrote the story in the book "Georgy Boy: Help, I'm Not a Vegetable." Are you saying because of your case, the feeding tube should remain?

GEORGE THORNALLY, RECOVERED FROM PARALYSIS: I think every case is probably different, but I can tell you this, in my case, as a vegetable, I was fighting for life with every part of my being, soul, brain.

KING: Were you aware of what was going on around you?

THORNALLY: Very aware, but I could not even grimace in pain.

KING: You were in pain?

THORNALLY: Terrific pain.

KING: But the neurosurgeons say about Terri, she is not in pain, she has been brain dead...

THORNALLY: Well, how would they know that? Have they ever been a vegetable?

KING: They showed a brain scan.

THORNALLY: Oh, well, that's a pretty gross determination, isn't it?

KING: They don't know, they don't even know how -- did you make any wish to have the thing pulled?

THORNALLY: No. I worry about all these young people who are saying in perfect health, if anything happens to me, please pull the plug. And I want to tell you, when you're in that condition, you're fighting for life and you don't want anybody pulling any plug.

KING: So you wouldn't -- you would reinstate her plug?

THORNALLY: Well, to answer your question, I would say yes.

KING: OK. Now, Patrick Furlong, your 82-year-old mother suffered cardiac failure during hospitalization for abdominal distress. You did not want her -- what's the story? You did not want her resuscitated?

PATRICK FURLONG, DYING MOTHER WAS RESUSCITATED DESPITE A DNR ORDER: No, Larry. As a matter of fact, we were very clear for many years. This is a case where all the T's were crossed and the I's were dotted. We had DNRs in place. And she was taken to the hospital for, as you say, abdominal distress, and about 10 hours later, she suffered cardiac and respiratory failure. And completely contrary to all of the paperwork and her wishes, she was actually resuscitated. And she had a very, very painful and terrifying 10-day experience until we finally -- finally let her go.

KING: It was your decision?

FURLONG: Yes, it was.

KING: Hard to make?

FURLONG: Doubly hard, really, because when you take the time and the trouble to put your DNRs in place, and get all of the end of life directives where they need to be, you don't rehearse emotionally to have to deal with it, because you've done the homework, it's done, it's over, you don't have to worry about that. And here you are suddenly faced with this horrendous decision.

KING: George, did you just wake up?

THORNALLY: After almost six months. I had a stellar experience about 3:00 in the morning, during which my body just mended and my brain knitted together, and I knew that I was going to live and that I was going to be all right.

KING: What did the doctors say?

THORNALLY: Well, everyone was shocked, because in the morning I pulled myself up, and when they came in, I said "hello, what are we having for breakfast?"

KING: Barry Lynn, what's wrong with the president's statement, err on the side of life?

REV. BARRY LYNN, EXEC. DIRECTOR, AMERICANS UNITED FOR SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE: I think the problem here, Larry, is that the Congress should never have gotten involved in this case. The religious right should not have gotten involved in Mrs. Schiavo's case. And with all due respect to my friend, Jesse Jackson, he should not have been involved here in this way.

It's trying to second-guess the legal and the medical judgments that have now been reviewed by 24 different courts and 24 attempted legal interventions. I think this is a civil rights issue. The question is whether Americans have a right to say no to life- sustaining therapies, whether that is a feeding tube, or a ventilator, or a kidney machine, and if they can't speak for themselves, who can we listen to? The courts have said Michael Schiavo have made that decision. People have challenged that decision in court, but I think now that all these processes have gone on, it's time to let Mrs. Schiavo go in the care of that hospice, which has been nothing but kind to her throughout this entire process.

KING: Jesse, why are you involved?

JACKSON: Well, because I feel passionate about her life. I feel that she has been dealt a severe injustice. As a minister, I have dealt with these cases before. A friend (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a few months ago, his son called and said, dad is in extreme stage of cancer. And at that time, he was taking Demerol, because of pain. He slid into a coma. And then, his pulse began to drop -- it was clear at that time that he was dying. We pulled the plug and he died.

In the case of Terri, here's a case where they pulled the tube for feeding and water, now we're just waiting and watching her starve and dehydrate to death. On the one hand, we have food and water, but we will not give it to her. And so we're looking at her there, waiting for her to die. That is very cruel. And I'm convinced that the law is important, but the law must be informed by mercy to be just.

KING: What's your last resolve here? Are you trying to get the Senate to do something?

JACKSON: We're really, we're praying for a miracle. There are some senators who are now working, trying to get an emergency legislation to get the tube in her while they litigate and keep debating. I don't know why we're so impatient.

Now, of course, I think on the one hand, we keep fighting for her life. But an issue beyond her life, we're being informed about this tragedy, there are those who embrace her; we must also now embrace long-term health care. What's not embraced are others in the same or similar predicament. So even (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we're being healed by her strifes.

LYNN: Jesse, the truth is, this is a woman who's been through 15 years of this. At some point -- and this is not a technical issue, this is a moral question -- at some point, one has to say, the system has done all it can do; now we have to take the caregivers there and let them do what is necessary in these final days, and to continue to politicize this in any way, from the left, the right or the center, is a terrible addition to a tragedy that's gone on... (CROSSTALK)

KING: Hold it, Jesse. Let me get the thoughts of...

JACKSON: That is immoral, and unethical, and unnecessary.

KING: Let me get the thoughts of our two guests. Patrick Furlong, what do you think?

FURLONG: I feel -- my heart goes out to Michael Schiavo. My heart goes out to the Schindlers. I honestly cannot imagine the agony that they're going through. They're a tug toy being pulled backwards and forth.

KING: George?

THORNALLY: The Appellate Court in Atlanta is comprised of three justices, one of which dissented. It's not widely reported.

KING: It was 2-1.

THORNALLY: Yes, and he, in his dissent, he started off quote, "I strongly dissent." And then he explained that the law has another aspect to it, that came to us from England with the common law called equity. When a court is asked to do something, it's asked to do equity. Equity allows flexibility, it allows the exercise of compassion.

So the court could have legally...

KING: But the vote was 2-1, and that's the way we live in this country, you know...

THORNALLY: Right, right, right.

KING: Majority rules in courts.

THORNALLY: But the legal system is not bereft of the opportunity to express compassion.

KING: Jesse, frankly, is there any hope for your cause?

JACKSON: Well, it's hope against hope. We pray for a miracle. What pains me so deeply is how we can become so callous about life that we can look at a woman, who after 10 days of no food and no water, she still has vital signs. You would be dying if you didn't have food and water for 12 days. Now, why in that condition, they don't allow her to have water for her lips, her parched lips?

LYNN: Reverend Jackson...


JACKSON: ... seems to me, that's just cold.

LYNN: Reverend Jackson, the compassion question was raised. The challenges have been made. These are not justices who just look at the statute books and have no compassion and no concern. The point is, they've evaluated the judgments, the medical judgments.

You and I are not doctors, we are not judges. We have never examined this woman. We have only to expect that the best has been done and that the best needs to be continue to be done in her life.

KING: All right, gentlemen, got to stop, we're out of time, but we'll do more on this tomorrow night. Also tomorrow night, we'll do more on the death of Johnny Cochran. We hope to have more visits with George Thornally and Patrick Furlong as well.

Thank you very much, George.

THORNALLY: Thank you.

KING: And Reverend Jesse Jackson and Reverend Barry Lynn.

Tomorrow night, more on the death of Johnnie Cochran, more on the Terri Schiavo case. That's tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern.

Right now, it's time to turn the tables -- turning tables -- to turn the platform over to my friend, Aaron Brown, the host of "NEWSNIGHT" in New York. Mr. Brown.


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