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Johnnie Cochran
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Cochran in May 2001
Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.

(1937-10-02)October 2, 1937
Died March 29, 2005(2005-03-29) (aged 67)
Cause of death Brain tumor
Alma mater University of California, Los Angeles (BA)
Loyola Marymount University (JD)
Occupation Lawyer
  • Barbara Berry Cochran (m. 1960–1977)
  • Sylvia Dale (m. 1985–2005)
Children 3

Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. (October 2, 1937 – March 29, 2005) was an American lawyer best known for his leadership role in the defense and criminal acquittal of O.J. Simpson for the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman.

Cochran represented Sean Combs during his trial on gun and bribery charges, as well as Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, Todd Bridges, football player Jim Brown, Snoop Dogg, former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe, 1992 Los Angeles riot beating victim Reginald Oliver Denny, and inmate and activist Geronimo Pratt. He represented athlete Marion Jones when she faced charges of doping during her high school track career. Cochran was known for his skill in the courtroom and his prominence as an early advocate for victims of police brutality.

Early life

Cochran was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. His father was an insurance salesman, and his mother sold Avon products. The family relocated to the West Coast during the second wave of the Great Migration, settling in Los Angeles in 1949. Cochran went to local schools and graduated first in his class from Los Angeles High School in 1955. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in business economics from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1959 and a Juris Doctor from the Loyola Law School in 1962. He was a member and 45th "Laurel Wreath Wearer" of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Illness and death

In December 2003, Cochran was diagnosed with a brain tumor. In April 2004, he underwent surgery, which led to his staying away from the media. Shortly thereafter, he told the New York Post he was feeling well, and that he was in good health.

On March 29, 2005, he died at his home in Los Angeles, from the brain tumor. Public viewing of his casket was conducted on April 4, at the Angelus Funeral Home and April 5, at Second Baptist Church, in Los Angeles. A memorial service was held at West Angeles Church of God in Christ, in Los Angeles, on April 6, 2005. His remains were interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California. The funeral was attended by numerous former clients and friends, including O.J. Simpson.


  • On January 24, 2006, Los Angeles Unified School District officials unanimously approved the renaming of Mount Vernon Middle School, Cochran's boyhood middle school, to Johnnie L Cochran Jr. Middle School in his honor.
  • In 2007, the three-block stretch of the street in front of the school was renamed "Johnnie Cochran Vista".
  • In 2007, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles opened the new Johnnie L Cochran Jr. Brain Tumor Center, a research center headed by noted neurosurgeon Keith Black, who had been Cochran's doctor.
  • Cochran's family created an endowed chair, the Johnnie L Cochran Jr. Chair in Civil Rights, at his alma mater, Loyola Law School of Loyola Marymount University.

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