Johnnie Cochran was born on October 2, 1937, in Shreveport, Louisana to Johnnie L. Cochran, and Hattie Cochran. His father, Johnnie Sr., was a Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company insurance dealer and his mother, Hattie, sold Avon products. Cochran attended public schools and improved his education.
He graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1955 and was the first class before studying at the University of California in Los Angeles, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics in 1959 and a Ph.D. in Legal Sciences in Loyola Law School in 1962.
Legal Career and Achievements
In 1963, Cochran passed the bar and in 1964 he received his first personal case, which was a personal affair and within two years entered private practice, and then opened his own company, Cochran, Atkins & Evans, in Los Angeles. At the end of the 1970s, Cochran built a reputation in the black community.
He dealt with high-profile cases of police brutality and defended well-known customers. Cochran defended such celebrities as Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, O.J. Simpson, Snoop Dogg, Todd Bridges and many others that are not mentioned. He established himself as a sought-after lawyer and was able to deal with cases of police brutality referred to him.
Inspired by Thurgood Marshal, Johnnie Cochran decided to devote his life to law practice because he had a passion for defending the poor and oppressed. For Cochran, his career was a vocation to which he had to respond, seeing it as an opportunity to fight for what was good, to confront evil and to fight for what seemed bad to him.
As a lawyer, Cochran also had ups and downs in his career; sometimes he experienced significant setbacks, but he did not give up and let himself be discouraged from doing what he thought was right because he really believed in himself that he could change the world by practicing the law.
The case that brought him to the attention of the international community and made him one of the most prominent lawyers in the United States of America was the case of former American footballer O.J. Simpson, accused of double murder.
Cochran created Johnnie L. Cochran Snr Fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles, for African men, and was president of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, whose main goal was to revive economically disadvantaged communities.
Johnnie Cochran was married twice. He married Barbara Berry Cochran for the first time in 1960. His marriage to Barbara, a primary school teacher, ended in 1977 and married Sylvia Dale again, and the marriage lasted from 1985 to 2005. His first marriage gave birth to two daughters – Tiffany and Melody – while he had a son, Jonathan, with his former girlfriend, Patty Sikora.
History of Domestic Abuse, Double Life
Johnnie Cochran was a man who lived a double life. He was accused by his first wife, Barbara, of having an affair with his long-time lover, Patty Sikora. In a 1995 book Life After by Johnnie Cochran, she wrote that she was beaten several times and attacked by a lawyer when she was still together as a couple.
She described Cochran as deceptive, manipulative, controlling and offensive. She also said that most of the time, each time she confronted him about her relationship with Patty, the lawyer was very angry and beaten her. Barbara’s accusations became very public during the O.J. Simpsons murder trial. She also said that Cochran and his father tried to put pressure on her to deny the accusations of violence she had made in the past.
Johnnie Cochran’s Death
In December 2003. Johnnie Cochran was diagnosed with a brain tumor and decided to have it removed, which he did in April 2004. During his convalescence, he remained away from the media for some time. Unfortunately, Johnnie Cochran died in his house in Los Angeles on 29 March 2005.
A public exhibition of his coffin took place on 4 April at Angelus’ Funeral Home, and the next day (5 April) at the second Baptist church in Los Angeles. They held a memorial service at West Angels Church of God on April 6, 2005, and he was buried at the Inglewood Park Cemetery cemetery in Inglewood, California.
On January 24, 2006, a year later, after Cochran’s death, the Los Angeles Unified School District approved the change of name to “Mount Vernon Middle School”, where he studied after him. The newly approved name was Johnnie L. Cochran Jr Middle School and “Johnnie L Cochran Jr. Brain Tumor Center” was opened in 2007 with Keith Black, who was a neurosurgeon and treated Cochran as the head of the research center.