The next year, she was charged in an armed takeover of a Marin County courtroom. A 17-year-old smuggled guns into the San Rafael courtroom and armed three black convicts. They tried to drive away with a judge, prosecutor, and three jurors as hostages. Police opened fire and in the melee the judge, the teenager, and two of the convicts died.
Davis was charged with murder, kidnapping, and criminal conspiracy because she had bought the smuggled guns - including a shotgun that had been taped to the judge during the escape attempt.
She fled and was placed on the FBI's 10 most wanted list. After her arrest, the case became a cause celebre. She claimed the guns had been stolen from her, and eventually was acquitted. Mr. Branton was instrumental in the decision, Davis told the Times on Thursday.
Mr. Branton had been involved in civil rights cases dating to the late 1940s. He helped singer Nat King Cole integrate the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hancock Park, defended Communists in the McCarthy era, and won police-misconduct cases. He also was an entertainment lawyer who represented the Platters, Miles Davis, and Richard Pryor. - AP