Johnnie Cochran, the all-star attorney who defended high-profile clients such as O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, and Snoop Dogg, died yesterday of a brain tumor. Just last Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Tory v. Cochran, a case in which the famous lawyer was the respondent. Will the court go ahead and make a ruling now that he's dead?
Maybe. For a criminal case, there would be no ambiguity�the death of a criminal defendant makes a case moot. But Tory v. Cochran is a civil case concerning freedom of speech, and the way in which it was decided by lower courts makes it quite peculiar.
UPDATE: SCOTUSblog reports: "We're advised (by a student in Erwin Chemerinsky's class, who sent along a helpful note) that the Court has called for briefing on the mootness question, with a brief from Cochran's lawyers in seven days and Tory's lawyers three days after that."