Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., (born Oct. 2, 1937, Shreveport, La., U.S.—died March 29, 2005, Los Angeles, Calif.), American trial lawyer who gained international prominence with his skillful and controversial defense of O.J. Simpson, a football player and celebrity who was charged with a double murder in 1994.
In 1949 Cochran’s family moved from Louisiana to California, where he later became one of only two dozen African American students at Los Angeles High School. He graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1959 and later earned a law degree from Loyola Law School (1962). After working for two years as a prosecutor for the city of Los Angeles, Cochran pursued a private career. His clients included celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur as well as minority victims of police brutality.