John L. Burris formed the Law Offices of John L. Burris in 1985, after several years in private practice with the firm Harris, Alexander, and Burris in Oakland, California. He earned a law degree from UC Berkeley School of Law - Boalt Hall and MBA from UC Berkeley Graduate School of Business. He is best known for his work in the area of plaintiff's civil rights over the last 25 plus years and as a legal analyst on Fox, MSNBC, Court TV, CNN and many local television and radio stations. His primary areas of focus for his practice include cases involving police misconduct, employment discrimination and criminal defense. His initial participation with police misconduct issues occurred in April 1979 when he was hired by the Mayor and the City Council of Oakland to conduct an independent investigation into the fatal police shooting of 15-year-old Melvin Black and the entry into the Oakland office of the NAACP by Oakland police officers. He is the author of the book BLUE vs. BLACK: Let's End the Conflict between Police and Minorities.
Following graduation from Boalt Hall in 1973, John L. Burris was employed as an associate with the law firm of Jenner & Block in Chicago, Illinois. He subsequently became an Assistant State Attorney in Cook County, Illinois and later in December 1976, he became a Deputy District Attorney with the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.
His high profile cases include the Oakland Riders class action, wherein he used many of the ideas from his book as a background in developing the reforms in the landmark multi-million dollar settlement of the case and consent decree placing the Oakland Police Department under a court monitor for 5 years, the Rodney King civil suit against the City of Los Angeles, two multi-million dollar class actions against two worldwide package delivery companies that established a series of reforms for minority employees that set forth hiring and promotional goals. He was also co-counsel against the Department of Corrections in a hostile work environment that resulted in a plaintiff's verdict and a series of reforms designed to deter exhibitionist masturbation by male inmates against female correctional officers. He has represented Barry Bonds, Tupac Shakur, Delroy Lindo, Dwayne Wiggins, Keyshawn Johnson, Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Latrell Sprewell, Sports Agent Aaron Goodwin and former Chief of Police of San Francisco Earl Sanders and numerous public officials.
He was selected as a member of the top 100 trial lawyers in California in 2007 by the American Trial Lawyers Association. He was named one of the top 100 most influential Attorneys in the State of California by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal in 2005. In June 2005 he was featured as "Oakland's Johnnie Cochran" by the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Magazine.
Burris is frequently requested as a speaker on the issues of police misconduct, the criminal justice system, trial practice, and other legal matters of interest nationwide. He has been a delegate with the Dwight D. Eisenhower People to People Ambassador Program where he has visited numerous foreign cities and countries including Athens, Florence, Rome, and Barcelona. He has also visited Mainland China and South Africa as an employment delegate.
John Burris has been recognized with community service awards by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the California State Assembly, and the Oakland City Council and numerous community groups. The City of Oakland proclaimed June 23 as John Burris Day in 1994.
He is married to Law School Professor, Cheryl Amana Burris, who teaches at North Carolina Central University.