Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2004-08-04

Samford University's Cumberland School of Law professor Donald Q. Cochran has received a top award given by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Cochran received the John Marshall Award from U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in a special ceremony in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, July 28, for his participation in the prosecution of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing case.

A former assistant U.S. Attorney, Cochran joined the Cumberland faculty in 2002.

Ashcroft presented the award, the justice department's highest honor given to attorneys for contributions and excellence in legal performance, to only three litigation teams in the nation.

In addition to Cochran, the recipients from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama included Robert O. Posey, assistant U.S. attorney; and R. Jeffrey Wallace, special assistant U.S. Attorney.

The Alabama team was honored for its outstanding work in the trials of two former Ku Klux Klansmen for the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, and the deaths of four girls.

The recipients were cited for their extraordinary contributions in the 2002 trials of defendants Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Edwin Blanton, Jr. Their dedication in pursuing the prosecution of the 37-year old crime resulted in bringing to justice those responsible for one of the most notorious terrorist attacks in American history, according to U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin's office.

"It is a great privilege to honor the award recipients this year who have fought tirelessly to preserve life, liberty and justice for all Americans," said Ashcroft at the ceremony, which also honored a select number of other justice department employees.

"America owes a debt of gratitude to these men and women. Their determination and hard work is extraordinary, and I am proud to honor them for their service," he said.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.