The Cochran Firm Mourns Passing of National President, Attorney Jock M. Smith
The Cochran Firm Mourns Passing of National President, Attorney Jock M. Smith
A distinguished trial lawyer, Smith has been recognized as one of America's top civil litigators
MONTGOMERY, Ala., Jan. 9, 2012
MONTGOMERY, Ala., Jan. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The family of Attorney Jock M. Smith and members of The Cochran Firm are deeply saddened by the passing of Jock M. Smith, Co-founder, National Partner and President of The Cochran Firm, and managing partner of the firm's Tuskegee, Alabama office. Mr. Smith passed away on Sunday morning, January 8, 2012. He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Yvette Smiley-Smith and his daughter, Janay Smith. Mr. Smith was 63.
Influenced as a young boy to become a lawyer like his father, Jacob Smith, a prominent New York attorney, civil rights and political leader who represented Count Basie and the NAACP, Smith was passionate about justice and equality, especially for the disadvantaged and overlooked by members of our society. It is the pursuit of this passion that defined his career and scripted his legacy.
"Jock Smith was one of the greatest trial lawyers of our time. He was an equally great family man and partner. His passing is a great loss to all of us," said Keith Givens, National Partner with The Cochran Firm.
Born June 10, 1948 in New York City, Smith graduated from Tuskegee University with high honors in 1970 and earned his law degree from the University of Notre Dame School of Law in 1973. While a law student, Smith founded the Black American Law Students' Association (BALSA) chapter at Notre Dame's Law School, and became its chairman. Smith earned his J.D. degree on May 20, 1973. Smith is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Inc.
After graduation, Mr. Smith worked as a legal advisor for the NAACP in Broome County, NY and Professor of Afro-American Studies, teaching a course entitled " American Law and Racism" at the New York State University at Binghamton.
In 1974, Smith became a professor of political science at Tuskegee University. Mr. Smith served as the Assistant Attorney General for the state of Alabama from 1974 – 1977 before opening The Law Offices of Jock M. Smith in Tuskegee, Alabama that same year. His practice represented plaintiffs and defendants in both criminal and civil suits. In 1987, Smith became a city municipal judge in Camp Hill, Alabama, spending two years on the bench. In 1990, he became Macon County's County Attorney, a position he would hold for fifteen years, representing the county in all legal matters.
In 1993, Smith organized his life-long sports passion and new career as a sports collector and created Scoring For Life, Inc., a non-profit organization that utilized his national sports collection to inspire and motivate teens and young adults to overcome life's challenges by using the real-life stories of sports legends.
Smith has the largest, documented, privately-owned collection of game-worn sports memorabilia and the largest African American sports collection in the United States. In addition to speaking to youth and adult groups across the country, Scoring For Life made a special appearance at Super Bowl XXXI as a guest of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).
In 1996, Mr. Smith met nationally acclaimed lawyer, Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. and formed Cochran Sports Management, a sports firm which represented professional athletes in contract negotiations. In 1998, it was Mr. Smith who facilitated the meetings with Mr. Cochran which led to the founding of the national law firm of Cochran, Cherry, Givens and Smith. This partnership became what is now known as The Cochran Firm, one of the country's most recognized civil plaintiff and criminal defense law firms.
Mr. Smith worked on many significant cases during his remarkable legal career. He obtained record setting verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients, including an $80 million verdict against Orkin Pest Control, for an elderly black female whose house was destroyed by termites after she was defrauded by the company (Jeter v. Orkin); a $700 million settlement in the nation's largest environmental case against Monsanto, Pharmacia and Solutia Incorporated (Tolbert v. Monsanto Co.); and a landmark $1.6 billion verdict against Southwestern Life Insurance for a mother of three who was a victim of fraud (Whittaker v. Southwestern Life Insurance Company). This verdict was reported as the single largest verdict in the nation in the National Law Journal and Lawyers Weekly USA (2004), and the verdict remains the largest civil verdict obtained by an African American lawyer in the nation's history. Additionally, this verdict was reported and published in 350 newspapers and magazines nationwide including Jet magazine, Black Enterprise magazine, The AtlantaJournal-Constitution and The New York Times. Mr. Smith also represented the legacy estates of both Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and he represented the Negro League Players, and civil rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth.
Sam Cherry, National Partner with The Cochran Firm, stated, "Jock worked tirelessly for his clients. He was dedicated in seeing that justice was upheld for all individuals. It was an honor to be his colleague and his friend."
In addition to his accomplished legal career as an attorney, law professor, motivational speaker and sports collector, Smith added author to his list of accomplishments, and in 2002, New South Books published Mr. Smith's autobiography, Climbing Jacob's ladder – A Trial Lawyer's Journey on Behalf of the Least of These.
Smith was also the recipient of numerous awards among which includes keys to the cities of New Orleans, Memphis and Flint. He has been recognized by the Alabama Trial Lawyers Association for tireless dedication and unwavering commitment, inducted into the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and received the Inaugural Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Journey to Justice Award (2005) at the National Bar Association Convention. The Martindale-Hubbell legal publication has given Smith its highest rating, the AV Rating, and Law dragon Legal Magazine in Los Angeles selected him as one of America's Top 500 Trial Litigators (2006 and 2007).
In 2009, Smith, who held a special place in his heart for his hometown of New York, was also selected as a member of Who's Who in Black Lawyers in New York in 2009. In 2010, he was selected as a lifetime member of Superior Lawyers of America. Mr. Smith was honored in the inaugural edition of Who's Who in Black Alabama and was named as a member of the Board of Trustees of Tuskegee University in 2011. Smith is also a lifetime member of the National Bar Association (NBA).
Mr. Smith was recently selected by The Trial Lawyer magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Trial Lawyers in America. He was to receive this award in just a few weeks at The National Trial Lawyers Conference which will be held in Miami, Florida.
Smith has appeared on numerous national television and radio programs including, "The Tavis Smiley Show", "The Bev Smith Show", Al Sharpton's "Keeping It Real" radio program, "The Michael Eric Dyson Show", BET's "The Ed Gordon Show" and "Praise the Lord" which is broadcast on the Trinity Broadcast Network, and "The 700 Club" airing on the Christian Broadcast Network.
Having accepted Christ in January 1, 1986, Jock was a dedicated student of the Holy Bible and enthusiastically shared his love of Jesus Christ with others, using his passion for sports to win souls for Christ. Smith was a member of Christian Life Church and received Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degrees from the Pentecostal Bible College, Tuskegee, Alabama and the Montgomery Bible Institute and Theological Center, Montgomery, Alabama.
A combination of his commitment to championing environmental issues and his vibrant and brilliant passion for justice, Smith was inducted onto the President's Advisory Council of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), making him the first African American to serve on that board.
In 2008, Smith joined President Barack Obama's 2008 historical campaign as a national surrogate, and until his death served as a member of the National Finance Committee and President's Advisory Council for the Democratic National Convention (DNC).
"Jock was nationally known as an advocate for others and a well respected member of the legal profession. His absence will be felt for years," said Hezekiah Sistrunk, National Partner with The Cochran Firm.
SOURCE The Cochran Firm