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For immediate release
February 20, 2003
Contact:
Jenny Lawhorn,
202-513-2754,
jlawhorn@npr.org

"Negligence All Around," Says Cochran about E2 Nightclub Tragedy in Chicago

Cochran Tells The Tavis Smiley Show He Will Represent Families

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- In an interview about the E2 nightclub tragedy in Chicago, Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. today told NPR's Tavis Smiley he is representing at least seven of the families who lost loved ones at the club the morning of Monday, February 17. The interview aired on The Tavis Smiley Show from NPR on Thursday, February 20, 2003. Audio of the interview is posted at www.npr.org/programs/tavis.

During the interview, Cochran told Smiley that he is looking closely at the investigation process and will go after everyone involved. " I think there is enough blame and enough fault to go around for everybody," said Cochran. "Number one, I think that the owners do bear some responsibility, when a judge says you have to cease and desist you have to do that. On the other hand, as I understand it, there's been a lot of notification and advertisement, so that the city knew or should have known that this place was in operation because the police were called there so often. So when we look back this is a tragedy that need not have happened. There are so many things that could have been done to save these 21 lives ... I think there's enough negligence all around, and I think that everybody has to be held accountable according to their deeds or misdeeds here."

Noting the longstanding personal ties between E2 club lessee Dwain Kyles and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Smiley asked Cochran if he was concerned that this case could put him at odds with powerful black leaders in Chicago. "It could," Cochran said. "But actually my clients here are the families of the deceased, so I can't be worried about that. You have to do what's right, and I have to represent my clients to the best of my ability, and that's the way it has to be. I just want to make sure that those who are responsible are held responsible. I don't care about they are or their titles, we have to do what we've gotta do. You have to continue to enforce the law equally. We have to learn that you cannot flout the law. Nobody is above the law. There's got to be equal justice for everybody."

The Tavis Smiley Show from NPR, a weekday, one-hour news and opinion program, is broadcast on 53 public radio stations across the U.S. and on the Web at npr.org. (Visit npr.org to find stations and broadcast times).


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