Civil Rights Attorney Jimmy Bell of Upper Marlboro, Md. who carved out a legal reputation for his willingness to take on and win difficult and unpopular cases, was found dead in his home on March 25. Is age could not be verified before publication.
The cause of death was not immediately known and funeral arrangements were still incomplete at press time. Bell had suffered from deteriorating health conditions and recently had a stroke.
Bell, once the handpicked choice of the late Johnny Cochran to work with him at the Cochran firm on personal injury cases, developed a niche in the county and around the country by representing exotic dancers, nightclub owners and victims of police misconduct.
He recently raised eyebrows by bringing a $3 million lawsuit against the Bowie State Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha for hazing which is set to go to trial on May 23. He also represented chef Timothy Dean for racial discrimination in an unlawful eviction lawsuit in New York. Bell was awarded $1.7 million on behalf of a Chevy Chase woman who was sexually assaulted by a sheriff’s deputy as she waited for a court appearance.
His legal cases have been featured in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Washington Times, New York Daily News, CQ Roll Call, The Huffington Post} nd ET, among others. Bell appeared as a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, ABC 20/20, CNN, Court TV, C-SPAN, NewsOne with Roland Martin and BET.
Bell tried more than 200 cases in federal court. He held a B.A. Degree from California State University Sacramento and a law degree from American University.
He has been called “a pugnacious civil rights attorney” with the “no nonsense mien of an amiable Rottweiler” who “isn’t a man to be trifled with,” according to his website.
Bell’s death sparked an onslaught of comments and concerns from members of his fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi and the community on social media when the family of the Sacramento, Calif. native could not be immediately found. He also was a member of the Prince Hall Masons.
“If I know Jimmy Bell he probably worked himself to death,” Baltimore attorney, close friend and fraternity brother J. Wyndal Gordon who was working on several cases with Bell told the AFRO .We “always told him to let off the gas because his level of intensity was so strong while his health was steadily in decline. There was just no let up with this man. He was indefatigable, steadfast and ever-determined to do the very best for his clients. He was a good lawyer too. A very good lawyer. We were working on two cases together.”
Gordon said he was a brilliant legal mind who had few peers in the courtroom.
“His advocacy was strong, his work ethic was beastial,” he said. “He (Bell) was greatly admired by many and well-respected by his opponents. This guy was a Ram of a lawyer. He didn’t play well with others, nor suffer fools lightly, and his fuse could be easily ignited with the tiniest spark of static electricity or dash of combustible fluid. I think that’s why we worked so well together. It pains me greatly to know one of my good friends and colleague will no longer be with us. I don’t know if Jimmy knew how much he was admired by so many in the greater community, but I know he’d be extremely comforted by all of your prayers, thoughts, and deeds.”