F. Lee Bailey, Lawyer For O.J. Simpson & Patty Hearst, Dies At 87
F. Lee Bailey, the criminal defense attorney who defended O.J. Simpson, Patty Hearst and the Boston Strangler, has died in hospice care at 87. Jennifer Sission, a manager for Bailey’s consulting firm, confirmed the defense attorney’s passing and called him “a great man.” While the cause of death is currently unknown, Bailey’s son Bendrix said that he had been suffering from poor health and moved to Atlanta to be closer to him.
Bailey, who was born in Massachusetts in 1933, had a prolific legal career, dropping out of Harvard, serving in the military, sailing yachts, defending high-profile defendants, writing books and inspiring movies. He is perhaps best known for his part in O.J. Simpson’s “dream team” of lawyers. Bailey, who gave a theatrical courtroom performance, was able to get Simpson acquitted for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole and waiter Ronald Goldman. Simpson tweeted upon hearing of Bailey’s death. He said, “I lost a great one. F Lee Bailey, you will be missed.”
With all his success in the courtroom, Bailey failed to keep Patty Hearst, the publishing heiress, out of prison for her role in a bank robbery. She was found guilty and went to prison for 22 months. Hearst later sued him for incompetent representation but dropped the lawsuit when President Jimmy Carter reduced her sentence.
Bailey was also unsuccessful in his defense of confessed Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo. Bailey brought up the confession in court and attempted to argue not guilty by reason of insanity. The jury didn’t buy it, and DeSalvo was later killed by inmates in prison.
The criminal defense attorney’s list of infamous defendants goes on. However, Bailey was disbarred by the state of Florida in 2001. The Florida Bar alleged that he mishandled around $6 million in stock owned by a former client, a convicted drug dealer, Claude Duboc. The court ruled that “Bailey is guilty of the most serious and basic trust account violations.” Bailey spent six months in federal prison for contempt of court in dealing with the Duboc investigation.
In 2016, the attorney filed for bankruptcy, stating that he owed $5 million in taxes and had limited assets. In the years before his death, Bailey ran a consulting business out of the apartment above his girlfriend’s salon.
Bailey was married four times and is survived by two sons, a sister and five grandchildren.