Cochran's famous clients, friends gather for funeral

LOS ANGELES - Johnnie Cochran's most celebrated clients, O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson, joined civil rights figures and Hollywood stars at the lawyer's funeral Wednesday, remembering Cochran's cunning legal skills and his commitment to the people he represented.

Cochran, 67, died March 29 of an inoperable brain tumor at his home in Los Angeles. He was diagnosed with the tumor in December 2003.

''He didn't just love justice or admire justice - he did justice, he achieved justice, he fought for justice, he made it happen,'' said Mayor James Hahn, the former city attorney and a Cochran friend.

Cochran ''deserves a standing ovation from everybody in this house,'' the Rev. Calvin Butts told the packed West Angeles Cathedral, drawing applause from a throng that included the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, Stevie Wonder, Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Sean ''P. Diddy'' Combs.

Falwell checks out after hospital stay

LYNCHBURG, Va. - The Rev. Jerry Falwell was released from the hospital Wednesday following a nine-day stay for respiratory arrest that his son said still has doctors stumped.

''The doctors couldn't give us a definitive answer, but they said it is not a chronic condition,'' Jonathan Falwell said in an interview.

Doctors at Lynchburg General Hospital had said initially that Falwell, 71, suffered from congestive heart failure but have deferred to the Falwell family for medical updates.

Potential jurors complete forms in Eric Rudolph trial

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - About 340 prospective jurors gathered in a hotel ballroom Wednesday to answer questions in the first step of a trial for serial bombing suspect Eric Rudolph, who faces capital charges in a fatal blast at an Alabama abortion clinic.

Potential jurors from 31 counties in northern Alabama filled out forms that court documents indicate could include questions about their knowledge of the case and attitudes on the death penalty. Rudolph waived his right to attend the start of jury selection but gave no reason.

Rudolph is charged with setting off a remote-controlled bomb in 1998 that killed an off-duty police officer and critically injured a nurse outside a Birmingham abortion clinic. He could be sentenced to die if convicted of using a deadly explosive at a building engaged in interstate commerce - the clinic - and setting off the explosion during a crime.

White supremacist gets 40-year term in plot to kill judge

CHICAGO - Avowed white supremacist Matthew Hale was sentenced to 40 years in prison Wednesday for trying to have a federal judge killed - the same judge whose husband and mother were murdered five weeks ago by a deranged man with no connection to Hale.

Hale, the 33-year-old leader of a group that preaches racial holy war, was sentenced after a rambling, two-hour speech in which he claimed he was the victim and even recited part of ''The Star Spangled Banner.'' He showed no emotion and sat staring at the defense table as the sentence was handed down.

Prosecutors argued for the maximum sentence, saying Hale's crime amounted to an act of terrorism, and the judge agreed.

Hale was convicted in April 2004 of soliciting an undercover FBI informant to murder U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow of Chicago in retaliation for her ruling against him in a trademark dispute.

N.C. House OKs bill to start lottery game

RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina's House narrowly approved a lottery Wednesday in a vote that could bring a state-operated numbers game to the only state on the East Coast without one.

The House voted 61-59 in favor of a measure bill that would dedicate profits from the games to school construction, scholarships and other education initiatives. The bill would also ban lottery advertising anywhere except the sites where the tickets are sold.

Democratic Gov. Mike Easley has been pushing a lottery for education needs since taking office in 2001. The measure was sent to the Senate, which historically has favored a lottery but hasn't voted on a bill in a decade.

- From staff reports