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.