Born In: Waltham, Massachusetts, United States
F. Lee Bailey was an American former criminal defense attorney, businessman, author, actor, and TV personality. He is best known for representing O.J. Simpson as one of the latter’s "dream team" lawyers in his 1995 murder trial. Bailey had served as a defense attorney in many notable cases, including those of Albert DeSalvo "The Boston Strangler,” Sam Sheppard (appeal), Carl A. Coppolino, George Edgerly, Ernest Medina, and Claude DuBoc. He had also been the attorney for the families of the Korean Airlines Flight 007 victims. He was licensed in Florida and in Massachusetts during most of his career but was disbarred in these two places in 2001 and 2003, respectively. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court and the Maine Board of Bar Examiners denied him a law license in 2014. Bailey hosted the TV shows Good Company and Lie Detector and co-authored books such as The Defense Never Rests and Cleared for the Approach: In Defense of Flying.
Also Known As: Francis Lee Bailey Jr.
Died At Age: 87
Spouse/Ex-: Patricia Shiers (m. 1985), Florence Gott (m. 1960 - div. 1961), Froma Portney (div. 1972), Lynda Hart (m. 1972 - div. 1980)
mother: Grace Mitchell
children: Bendrix L. Bailey, Brian Bailey, Scott F. Bailey
Partner: Debbie Elliott
Born Country: United States
place of death: Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
U.S. State: Massachusetts
education: Cardigan Mountain School, Harvard College, Boston University School of Law, Kimball Union Academy, Boston University, Harvard University
F. Lee Bailey was born Francis Lee Bailey Jr., on June 10, 1933, in Waltham, Massachusetts, U.S. His father was an advertising salesman, and his mother was a teacher and nursery school director. Bailey’s parents divorced when he was 10.
Bailey initially studied at the Cardigan Mountain School. He then joined the Kimball Union Academy and graduated in 1950. Following this, he enrolled at Harvard University. However, in 1952, he left the university to join the United States Marine Corps. Delegated as an officer, Bailey undertook flight training and obtained his Naval Aviator wings in 1954. After serving as a jet fighter pilot for a while, Bailey began working as a squadron legal officer.
Although Bailey returned to Harvard for a while, he joined the Boston University School of Law in 1957. There, he attained the highest grade point average in the history of the school. In 1960, Bailey graduated with an LL.B. degree, ranking first in his class.
F. Lee Bailey had a notable career as a defense attorney and was involved in several high-profile cases that made headlines. One of the first cases that raised him to prominence was that of osteopathic physician Sam Sheppard, who was found guilty of the murder of his wife, Marilyn Reese Sheppard, in 1954.
Sheppard's brother, Stephen, hired him for the case. By then, all the appeals made by Sheppard’s attorney, William Corrigan, had been rejected. Bailey became the chief counsel of Sheppard after Corrigan’s death on July 30, 1961.
Bailey argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1966, saying that his client had been denied due process, and eventually won a re-trial. Sheppard was acquitted in the second trial.
Bailey also worked on the case of Albert DeSalvo when the latter was in jail for a series of rapes known as the "Green Man" incidents. Reportedly, DeSalvo had told Bailey about his criminal activities as the “Boston Strangler.”
In 1967, DeSalvo was sentenced to life imprisonment for the sexual assaults. However, he was never tried for the murders committed by the “Strangler.” Bailey believed that DeSalvo was the murderer/strangler and elucidated the case in his 1995 book The Defense Never Rests.
Bailey also worked on the case of Carl A. Coppolino, who was tried for murder in two states. Coppolino was accused of killing retired army colonel William Farber, his neighbor, who was also the husband of his mistress, Marjorie Farber, on July 30, 1963, in New Jersey.
Coppolino was also accused of murdering his wife, Carmela Coppolino, on August 28, 1965, in Florida. Bailey succeeded in defending Coppolino in the New Jersey case in December 1966. Coppolino was, however, convicted of the second-degree murder of his wife and sentenced to life imprisonment.
F. Lee Bailey acquired expertise in lie-detector tests after attending the Keeler Polygraph Institute in Chicago. This skill led him to become part of the defense team of George Edgerly, a mechanic who was charged with the murder of his wife. Edgerly was eventually acquitted.
F. Lee Bailey led the defense team of U.S. Army captain Ernest Medina, who was court-martialed in 1971, for willingly allowing his men to murder My Lai non-combatants in the My Lai Massacre of March 16, 1968, during the Vietnam War.
Bailey and the defense team of Medina succeeded in proving that the men under Medina’s command had killed Vietnamese non-combatants under their own volition and not under the orders of Medina. Thus, Medina was eventually acquitted of all charges in August 1971.
Bailey, however, was unsuccessful in defending Patty Hearst, the heiress and granddaughter of American publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. She was accused of committing an armed bank robbery following her 1974 kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). In 1976, she was convicted of the robbery and sentenced to 7 years in prison.
Bailey became part of the defense team, also known as the "Dream Team,” of O. J. Simpson shortly before the preliminary hearing of Simpson’s case. Prior to that, Simpson had been arrested and charged with the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, in 1994. The internationally publicized and lengthy trial of Simpson witnessed Bailey’s famous cross-examination of Mark Fuhrman, the detective of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) who had been investigating the murder case. This cross-examination is regarded by many as the most crucial element that led to Simpson's acquittal.
F. Lee Bailey hosted the short-lived TV series Good Company in 1967 and the show Lie Detector in 1983. His other TV pursuits include the series Matt Houston (an episode named The Monster on January 6, 1984), Unsolved Mysteries (an episode aired on May 11, 1994), and the animation series Spider-Man (as a voice actor in the episode The Sandman Is Coming, aired on October 10, 1981).
Meanwhile, in October 1972, the men’s adult magazine Gallery named him "the showcase publisher of Gallery.”
F. Lee Bailey married Florence Gott in 1960, following his graduation. However, they divorced in 1961. He later married his former secretary, Froma Portney. In 1972, Bailey and Portney divorced.
On August 26 that year, he married Lynda Hart. The two divorced in 1980. On June 10, 1985, Bailey married Patricia Shiers. Patricia died on September 12, 1999.
Bailey had several brushes with the law. He and Glenn W. Turner, the owner of the multi-level-marketing companies Koscot Interplanetary and Dare to be Great, were among the 10 people who were indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy and mail fraud in 1973. It was claimed that Bailey had appeared in a film made for Turner's organization and had also appeared with the latter in different rallies. The charges against Bailey were later dropped.
He was arrested for drunk driving in California on February 28, 1982, and was successfully defended by Robert Shapiro. Enraged by the drunk driving trial, Bailey authored the book How to Protect Yourself Against Cops in California and Other Strange Places (1982).
Meanwhile, Bailey and Shapiro fought the case of Claude DuBoc, a marijuana dealer. The latter agreed to confiscation of his assets by the U.S. government during a plea bargain agreement.
However, in 1996, when Bailey failed to turn over a stock of DuBoc in BioChem to the U.S. government (as he had used it as collateral for loans), Bailey was imprisoned for contempt of court.
He had to remain in the Federal Correctional Institution, Tallahassee, for 44 days before his brother raised money to return the stock to the government. The Florida Supreme Court later found him guilty of seven counts of attorney misconduct. He was disbarred in the state of Florida in 2001, and in Massachusetts on April 11, 2003. He unsuccessfully tried to regain his law license in Massachusetts in March 2005.
Bailey later relocated to Yarmouth, Maine, where he and his girlfriend, Debbie Elliott, became partners in their consulting firm, Bailey & Elliott. He cleared the Maine bar examination in 2012, and applied for a law license. However, he was not allowed to practice law there. Eventually, he filed for bankruptcy in June 2016.
F. Lee Bailey died on June 3, 2021, after a period of ill health. He was 87.