Lee Bailey, a widely recognized attorney, died Thursday. He was 87. Bailey was known for his role in defending O.J. Simpson, Patricia Hearst, and the Boston Strangler. After being expelled from two states, his legal career came to an abrupt halt.
His death was confirmed by his son Bendrix who said his father had been in ill health for years and was living in Georgia to be close to another son, Scott. F. Lee Bailey died at a hospital close to the Atlanta area, according to Kenneth Fishman, Bailey’s former law partner who later took up the role of a Superior Court Judge in Massachusetts.
“In many respects, he was the model of what a criminal defense attorney should be in terms of preparation and investigation,” stated Fishman, whose alliance with Bailey goes back to the early period of 1975.
Over years, F. Lee Bailey dropped out of Harvard, published books, ran a detective agency, praised himself on television, married four times, took on futile cases, and visited jail for six weeks before being disbarred.
In a four-decade career, Bailey was seen as a conceited and egocentric man with a condescending tone of authority. Nevertheless, he was, is, and will be regarded as one of the most brilliant, poised, and impeccable people, who worked tirelessly to fight for their clients.
In an interview with U.S News and World Report in September 1981, Bailey remarked on the legal profession and how it is nothing less than a “tremendous collection of egos.” Bailey’s other high-profile clients included Capt. Ernest Medina, charged with the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War, and Dr. Samuel Shepherd, in connection to the murder of his wife.
A devoted pilot, F. Lee Bailey was a part of the “dream team” that worked to defend Simpson, former NFL star who was accused of killing his wife Nicole Brown Simpson, and her acquaintance, Ron Goldman back in 1995. Simpson took to Twitter to post about his former attorney’s death: “I lost a great one. F Lee Bailey, you will be missed.”
In a 1996 story published in the Boston Globe Magazine, Simpson spoke of Bailey as the most “valuable member” of the dream team. Meticulous and patient, Bailey was able to simplify the case, bring out the most important parts, and devise an appropriate strategy to counter the issue at hand, said the then acquitted Simpson.
Lee Bailey was also a best-selling author and his latest masterpiece “The Truth About the O.J. Simpson Trial: By The Architect of the Defense,” was set for release this month.
Despite earning a round of appreciation for his work in the court, Bailey is also known to lose several cases, notably Hearst’s. Hearst, an heiress kidnapped by a Symbionese Liberation Army Terrorist Group in 1974 had gone to participate in robberies with the group. At trial, Bailey affirmed that her participation in robberies was forced as her life was in danger.
However, she was still convicted. Hearst later claimed Bailey was an “ineffective counsel” who gave up her defense in exchange for a book deal. She was released in January 1979 when President Jimmy Carter converted her sentence.
During his four-decade career, Bailey was known for his hunt for publicity. In 1971, he was disbarred by a judge in New Jersey for speaking publicly about a case. Fisherman claims that a quest for publicity was all part of his strategy.
”To get out there and throw doubt on all the criminal charges” is what Bailey aimed to do with his moves, clarified Fisherman. He was also disbarred in Florida in 2001 and Massachusetts in 2002, all because of his manner of handling stock worth millions of dollars owned by a convicted drug dealer in 1994.
Bailey got married four times and divorced three. He has three children.