Johnnie Cochran's daughter celebrates legacy of justice
03/01/2016 6:14 pm PST
Millions of people are hooked on the new FX cable TV series "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story."
Crime Watch Daily talked to someone with a unique perspective as to what she witnessed during the "Trial of the Century": Tiffany Cochran, daughter of Simpson's famed attorney Johnnie Cochran.
Tiffany was a 24-year-old news anchor in South Carolina when her dad called her with the scoop that would dramatically alter her life.
"He said, 'I've been asked to join the O.J. Simpson defense team, and I said, 'OK, good for you,' and he said it might impact our family and I want to have a full discussion with you about it," said Tiffany. "I said 'Dad, if you can make a difference, if you can help, I think you should do it if that's what you want to do.'"
With his masterful legal arguments Johnnie won an acquittal for Simpson, who was charged with the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.
"You either liked him or you didn't, so the criticism trickled down to me because they were like 'Your dad is representing this monster, so he has to be a monster too,'" said Tiffany. "Then the death threats started coming in."
Death threats that opened up the racial divide in America. Tiffany says she got so many threats her dad hired her a bodyguard and her TV station had to sweep for bombs every morning.
Tiffany says the trial became a huge distraction for her, so she took a leave of absence from her anchor job and moved to Atlanta, where she now delivers commentary for our affiliate partner WGCL.
She says the producers of the Simpson miniseries didn't consult with her family.
"His first scene is in a closet -- it kind of puts you in the mind at what you'd see at your dry-cleaners," said Tiffany. "So if they're trying to make it seem like he's a 'slickster' who had all these clothes, I think that takes away again from the lawyer and his mission of trying to help people."
His toughest battle was an inoperable brain tumor, but still Johnnie was able to walk Tiffany down the aisle. He died in 2005. Tiffany's daughter Emmy never met her grandfather.
And now there is a new film about Johnnie Cochran and another football player in the works: It's the story of Ron Settles, a rising football star from California State University-Long Beach. In 1981, Signal Hill, California, cops pulled Settles over for speeding. The next morning Settles was dead , hanging in his cell, severely beaten.
An autopsy showed he was choked to death. His parents hired Johnnie to sue the city -- and he won the suit, getting the parents $760,000.
"My dad joined the case and he was able to prove in fact that he was murdered," said Tiffany. "So I think when we are talking about his legacy we're really not talking about representation of celebrities, we're talking about folks, everyday folks. The Settles family, they didn't have any money, they didn't come from any sort of wealth, but they were able to hire an attorney who fought for their child."
Tiffany says that's why her father's legacy is defined by more than snazzy suits, memorable moments in court and the Trial of the Century.