Celebrity attorney F. Lee Bailey dead at 87

Celebrity attorney F. Lee Bailey dead at 87

Celebrity attorney F. Lee Baileyc, who represented O.J. Simpson et al. , has died.

F. Lee Bailey, the celebrity attorney who defended O.J. Simpson, Patricia Hearst and therefore the alleged Boston Strangler, but whose legal career halted when he was disbarred in two states, has died, a former colleague said Thursday. He was 87.

Bailey died at a hospital within the Atlanta area, consistent with Kenneth Fishman, Bailey's former law partner who went on to become a court judge in Massachusetts.

Fishman didn't disclose the explanation for death but said Bailey had moved to Georgia a few year ago to be closer to at least one of his sons and had been handling several medical issues for the past few months.

“In many respects, he was the model of what a criminal defense lawyer should be in terms of preparation and investigation," said Fishman, whose legal association and friendship with Bailey dates to 1975.

In a career that lasted quite four decades, Bailey was seen as arrogant, egocentric and contemptuous of authority. But he was also acknowledged as bold, brilliant, meticulous and tireless within the defense of his clients.

“The bar may be a business with an incredible collection of egos,” Bailey said an in interview with U.S. News and World Report in September 1981. “Few people that aren't strong egotistically gravitate thereto .”

Some of Bailey’s other high-profile clients included Dr. Samuel Sheppard — accused of killing his wife — and Capt. Ernest Medina, charged in reference to the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War .

Bailey, a fanatical pilot, best-selling author and tv show host, was a member of the legal “dream team” that defended Simpson, the previous star NFL back and actor acquitted on charges that he killed his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, in 1995.

In a tweet Thursday, Simpson said, “I lost an excellent one. F Lee Bailey you'll be missed.”

Bailey was the foremost valuable member of the team, Simpson said during a 1996 story within the Boston Globe Magazine.

“He was ready to simplify everything and identify what the foremost vital parts of the case were,” Simpson said. “Lee laid down what the case’s strategy was, what was getting to be important and what wasn't . i assumed he had a tremendous grasp of what was getting to be the foremost important parts of the case, which clothed to be true.”

One of the foremost memorable moments of the trial came when Bailey cross-examined l. a. detective Mark Fuhrman in an effort to portray him as a racist whose goal was to border Simpson. it had been classic Bailey.

Fuhrman denied using racial epithets, but the defense later turned up recordings of Fuhrman making racist slurs.

Even though Fuhrman remained cool struggling , and a few legal experts called the confrontation a draw, Bailey, recalling the exchange months later, said, “That was the day Fuhrman dug his own grave.”

Bailey’s latest book, “The Truth About the O.J. Simpson Trial: By The Architect of the Defense,” was being released this month.

Bailey earned acquittals for several of his clients, but he also lost cases, most notably Hearst’s.

Hearst, a publishing heiress, was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army terrorist organization on Feb. 4, 1974, and took part in armed robberies with the group. At trial, Bailey claimed she was coerced into participating because she feared for her life. She still was convicted.

Hearst called Bailey an “ineffective counsel” who reduced the trial to “a mockery, a farce, and a sham,” during a declaration she signed with a motion to scale back her sentence. Hearst accused him of sacrificing her defense in an attempt to urge a book deal about the case.

She was released in January 1979 after President Carter commuted her sentence.

Bailey made his name because the attorney for Sheppard, an Ohio osteopath convicted in 1954 of murdering his wife.

Sheppard spent quite a decade behind bars before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled during a landmark 1966 decision that “massive, pervasive, prejudicial publicity” had violated his rights. Bailey helped win an acquittal at a second trial.

Bailey also defended Albert DeSalvo, the person who claimed responsibility for the Boston Strangler murders between 1962 and 1964. DeSalvo confessed to the slayings, but was never tried or convicted, and later recanted. Despite doubts thrown on DeSalvo’s claim, Bailey always maintained that DeSalvo was the strangler.

Throughout his career, Bailey antagonized authorities together with his sometimes abrasive style and his go after publicity. He was censured by a Massachusetts judge in 1970 for “his philosophy of utmost egocentricity,” and was disbarred for a year in New Jersey in 1971 for talking publicly a few case.

But publicity was a part of his strategy, Fishman said.“Enjoying the general public eye became a tool for him," Fishman said. “He was one among the primary lawyers to travel outside the courtroom and talk ahead of a bunch of microphones. All the news a few case was from the prosecution's side. So his strategy was to urge out there and throw doubt on all the criminal charges."

Bailey was disbarred in Florida in 2001 and therefore the next year in Massachusetts for the way he handled many dollars available owned by a convicted drug smuggler in 1994. He spent almost six weeks in federal prison charged with contempt of court in 1996 after refusing to show over the stock. The experience left him “embittered.”

He passed the bar examination in Maine in 2013, but was denied the proper to practice by the state's highest court, which concluded that he had not demonstrated that he understood the seriousness of his actions that led to his disbarment within the other states.

Francis Lee Bailey was born within the Boston suburb of Waltham, the son of a newspaper advertising man and a schoolteacher.

He enrolled at Harvard University in 1950 but left at the top of his sophomore year to coach to become a Marine pilot. He retained a lifelong love of flying and even owned his own aviation company.

While within the military, Bailey volunteered for the legal staff at the Cherry Point United States Marine Corps air base in North Carolina, and shortly found himself the legal officer for quite 2,000 men.

Bailey earned a academic degree from Boston University in 1960, where he had a 90.5 average, but he graduated without honors because he refused to hitch the Law Review. He said the university waived the need for an undergraduate degree due to his military legal experience.

Bailey was married fourfold and divorced three. His fourth wife, Patricia, died in 1999. He had three children.

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