F. Lee Bailey, the criminal defense attorney who helped successfully defend O.J. Simpson on murder charges, has died. He was 87.
Bailey died today in Georgia, according to his son, as reported by the New York Times and Washington Post.
The sharply dressed attorney also defended Patricia Hearst (for bank robbery), Army Capt. Ernest Medina (who was implicated in the My Lai Massacre) and Albert DeSalvo (who confessed to being the Boston Strangler), but had his own share of legal troubles in later years.
A Harvard dropout who served in the military before resuming his studies, he graduated from Boston U. Law School in 1960, having already worked as a private investigator. Bailey became famous in 1966 when he won the Supreme Court reversal of osteopath Sam Sheppard’s conviction for the murder of his wife. Sheppard was acquitted during his retrial. The 1960s TV series “The Fugitive” and the 1993 movie of the same name were loosely based on Sheppard’s case.
In 1995, Bailey joined the team that represented Simpson for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman. Bailey’s essential contribution to the trial was his harsh cross-examination of Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman, during which he unveiled Fuhrman’s history of racial slurs, which implanted enough doubt in jurors to help lead to a not-guilty verdict.
“I lost a great one. F. Lee Bailey, you will be missed,” Simpson captioned on a Twitter video. He said his death comes the same week Bailey finished the book he wrote about Simpson’s trial. “Lee was 87 years old, but boy was he full of energy,” he said. “That is one book I am looking forward to reading… Maybe the best lawyer of our time, of his generation.”
I lost a great one. F Lee Bailey you will be missed. pic.twitter.com/6s8JI3OQVB
— O.J. Simpson (@TheRealOJ32) June 3, 2021
Bailey’s personal legal troubles included a DWI charge in 1982 and an indictment on bank fraud charges in the ’70s. Multiple counts of judicial misconduct led to his disbarment in Florida and Massachusetts in his later years. In attempt to revive his practice, he passed the bar exam in Maine, but its board of examiners ended up refusing to admit him, ultimately ending his law career.