F. Lee Bailey

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For other people named Francis Bailey, see Francis Bailey (disambiguation).
F. Lee Bailey
Born Francis Lee Bailey, Jr.
(1933-06-10) June 10, 1933 (age 82)
Waltham, Massachusetts
Education Harvard University
Boston University (LL.B.)
Occupation Disbarred lawyer in the states of Florida and Massachusetts, businessman, author
Known for High profile defense attorney
Spouse(s) Florence Gott (m. 1960; div. 1961)
Froma Portney (div. 1972)
Lynda Hart (m. 1972; div. 1980)
Patricia Shiers (m. 1985; died 1999)
Children Scott F. Bailey
Bendrix L. Bailey

Francis Lee Bailey Jr., commonly referred to as F. Lee Bailey, (born June 10, 1933) is an American former attorney. For most of his career, he was licensed in Massachusetts[1] and Florida. He was a criminal defense attorney who served as the lawyer in the re-trial of osteopathic physician Sam Sheppard. He was also the supervisory attorney over attorney Mark J. Kadish in the court martial of Captain Ernest Medina for the My Lai Massacre, among other high-profile trials, and was one of the lawyers for the defense in the O. J. Simpson murder case. He has also had a number of visible defeats, legal controversies, and personal trouble with the law, and was disbarred in Massachusetts and Florida for misconduct while defending his client Claude DuBoc.[2] In 2014 he was denied a law license by the Maine State Bar Association and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.[3]

Education and military service[edit]

Bailey was born in Waltham, Massachusetts. He went to Cardigan Mountain School and then Kimball Union Academy, graduating in the class of 1950. Bailey studied at Harvard College, but dropped out in 1952 to join the United States Marine Corps. Bailey was commissioned as an officer and, following flight training, received his Naval Aviator wings in 1954.[4] He served as a jet fighter pilot, and then began to serve as a squadron legal officer, the role he filled until he resigned his commission in 1956. He briefly returned to Harvard before he was admitted to Boston University School of Law in 1957, which accepted his military experience in lieu of the requirement for students to have completed at least three years of undergraduate college courses.[5] He graduated with an LL.B. in 1960, and was ranked first in his class.[6][7]

Notable cases[edit]

Sam Sheppard[edit]

In 1954, Dr. Sam Sheppard was found guilty in the murder of his wife Marilyn. The case was claimed to be the inspiration for the television series The Fugitive (1963–1967) and the 1993 movie of the same name.[8] In the 1960s Bailey, at the time a resident of Rocky River, Ohio, was hired by Sheppard's brother Stephen to help in Sheppard's appeal. In 1966, Bailey successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that Sheppard had been denied due process, winning a re-trial. A not guilty verdict followed. This case established Bailey's reputation as a skilled defense attorney and was the first of many high-profile cases.[9]

"Boston Strangler"[edit]

While defendant Albert DeSalvo was in jail for the "Green Man" sexual assaults, he confessed his guilt in the "Boston Strangler" murders to Bailey. DeSalvo was found guilty of the assaults but was never tried for the stranglings.[10]

Dr. Carl A. Coppolino[edit]

Dr. Coppolino was accused of the July 30, 1963 murder of retired Army Col. William Farber, his neighbor and the husband of Marjorie Farber, with whom the doctor was having an affair. He was also accused of the August 28, 1965 murder of his wife, Dr. Carmela Coppolino. The prosecution claimed that Coppolino injected his victims with a paralyzing drug called succinylcholine chloride, which at the time was undetectable due to limited forensic technology. Bailey successfully defended Coppolino in the New Jersey case over the death of Col. Farber in December 1966. However, Coppolino was convicted of murdering his wife in Florida. He was paroled after serving 12 years of his sentence.[11][12][13][14][15]

Ernest Medina[edit]

Bailey successfully defended U.S. Army Captain Ernest Medina in his 1971 court-martial for responsibility in the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War.[16] Medina was court-martialed for allegedly allowing the men in the company he commanded to murder My Lai non-combatants. Medina claimed that he never gave orders to kill non-combatants, and that his men killed non-combatants of their own volition. Medina also testified that he was unable to stop the massacre because he did not become aware of it until it was too late.[17] Medina additionally denied personally killing any Vietnamese non-combatants at My Lai, with the exception of a young woman whom two soldiers testified that they had found hiding in a ditch. When she emerged with her hands held up Medina shot her because, as he claimed at his court-martial, he thought she had a grenade.[18] Medina was acquitted, and subsequently left the Army.[19] He later worked at an Enstrom Helicopter Corporation plant in which Bailey had an ownership stake.[20]

Patty Hearst[edit]

The case of Patty Hearst, a newspaper heiress who had committed armed bank robberies after being kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), was one of Bailey's defeats. Patty Hearst describes his closing argument in her autobiography as "disjointed" and that she suspected he had been drinking. During his closing argument, Bailey spilled a glass of water on his pants.[21] Hearst was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison. She served 22 months before her sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.[22] She was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2001.[23]

1994 DuBoc case[edit]

In 1994, while the O.J. Simpson case was being tried, Bailey and Robert Shapiro represented Claude DuBoc, an accused marijuana dealer. In a plea bargain agreement with the U.S. Attorney, DuBoc agreed to turn over his assets to the U.S. government. These included a large block of stock in BioChem, worth approximately $6 million at the time of the plea deal. When the government sought to collect the stock, it had increased in value to $20 million. Bailey claimed he was entitled to the appreciation in payment of his legal fees. Since he had used the stock as collateral for loans, he was unable to turn over the stock to the government. In 2000, he was sent to prison for contempt. After 44 days at the Federal Correctional Institution, Tallahassee, Bailey's brother succeeded in raising the money to enable him to return the stock, and he was freed.[3][4]

O.J. Simpson[edit]

Bailey joined the O. J. Simpson defense team just before the preliminary hearing. Bailey held numerous press conferences to discuss the progress of the case. In a press conference prior to his cross-examination of Mark Fuhrman, Bailey said, "any lawyer in his right mind who would not be looking forward to cross-examining Mark Fuhrman is an idiot". His famous cross-examination of Fuhrman is considered by many to be the key to Simpson's acquittal. In front of a jury composed predominantly of people of color, Bailey got the detective to claim, "marine to marine", he never used the word "nigger" to describe blacks at any time during the previous ten years, a claim the defense team easily found evidence to refute. Ultimately, the statement that Bailey drew from the detective forced Fuhrman to plead the Fifth in his next courtroom appearance, thereby undermining his credibility with the jury and the otherwise devastating evidence he allegedly found. (After once pleading the Fifth on the perjury question, Furman was required to continue the same plea to subsequent questions, including the question, "Did you plant or manufacture any evidence in this case?" In the words of fellow Simpson lawyer Alan Dershowitz, "Once you open the door to an area of inquiry, you have waived your Fifth Amendment right . . .you’ve waived your self-incrimination right on that matter."[24][25]) Bailey also attracted minor attention for keeping a silver flask on the defense table, which fellow defense attorney Robert Kardashian claimed contained only coffee.[26]

William & Chantal McCorkle[edit]

Chantal McCorkle (born 1968, Slough, England) is a British citizen. Along with William, her American husband, she was tried and convicted in 1998 in Florida for her part in a financial fraud. The McCorkles sold kits purporting to show buyers how to get rich by buying property in foreclosures and government auctions. They advertised on infomercials. Among the grounds for their conviction was their representation in the infomercials that they owned luxury automobiles and airplanes (actually rented for the commercials), and their use of purported testimonials from satisfied customers, who were actually paid actors.[27]

She, represented by Mark Horwitz, and her husband, represented by Bailey, were each originally sentenced to over 24 years in federal prison under mandatory sentencing laws. After two appeals, the McCorkles' sentences were reduced in 2006 to 18 years.[28]

"Paul is Dead"[edit]

Bailey was featured in an RKO television special, in which he conducted a mock trial, examining various expert "witnesses" on the subject of the Paul is dead rumor referring to Beatle Paul McCartney.[29][30] One of the experts was Fred LaBour, whose article in The Michigan Daily had been instrumental in the spread of the urban legend. LaBour told Bailey during a pre-show meeting that he had made the whole thing up. Bailey responded, "Well, we have an hour of television to do. You're going to have to go along with this." The program aired locally in New York City on November 30, 1969, and was never re-aired.[31][32]


Bailey's visible public profile has come both as a result of the cases he has taken and for his own personal actions.[33] In 2001, he was disbarred in the state of Florida, with reciprocal disbarment in Massachusetts on April 11, 2003. The Florida disbarment was the result of his handling of stock during his representation of marijuana dealer Claude DuBoc.[34] Bailey had transferred a large portion of DuBoc's assets into his own accounts. The stock, worth about $5.9 million, was supposed to be included in the forfeiture of assets DuBoc made as part of a plea bargain. It had been held by Bailey because it would be sold immediately if it came into government possession, but it was expected to dramatically rise in value.[35] Bailey later refused to turn it over, claiming it was payment of his legal fees, and not part of DuBoc's asset forfeiture.[36] In addition, Bailey claimed the stock was collateral for loans he had received, and so could not be sold until the loans were repaid.[37] These arguments were rejected by the court; the stock rose in value to about $20 million, and Bailey then argued that if he turned over the stock so it could be sold, he was entitled to keep the difference between what it was valued at when he received it and its new, higher price.[38] After being imprisoned for six weeks in 1996 for contempt of court, Bailey's brother raised the money that enabled Bailey to turn the stock over to the government, and he was released.[39][40] He was later found guilty of seven counts of attorney misconduct by the Florida Supreme Court, and in 2001 he was disbarred.[41] Massachusetts disbarred Bailey two years later.[42]

In early 2003 a judge ordered Bailey to pay $5 million in taxes and penalties on income connected with the Duboc case, but the judge later reversed the decision, although Bailey still had an unpaid tax bill of nearly $2 million, which he disputed.[43] In March 2005, Bailey filed to regain his law license in Massachusetts but failed.[44]

Application to practice law in the state of Maine[edit]

In 2012, Bailey, having become a resident of Maine, passed the bar examination there and applied for a law license; in 2012 the Maine Board of Bar Examiners voted 5–4 to deny his application. The majority said Bailey had not proved by "clear and convincing evidence that he possesses the requisite honesty and integrity" to practice law.[45] Bailey appealed, petitioning the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to review the denial. In March 2013, a two-day hearing was held by Supreme Judicial Court Justice Donald Alexander in which Bailey's present suitability to practice law was examined. Justice Alexander filed a 57-page ruling on April 19, 2013, stating that Bailey "was almost fit to practice law, except for an outstanding tax debt of nearly $2 million".[46] Bailey was allowed to move for reconsideration of the decision "if [he] offer[ed] a plan to repay the nearly $2 million he owes in back taxes to the federal government".[46] Initially, the government had claimed that Bailey owed $4 million in back taxes. However, representing himself before the tax court, Bailey was successful in having the amount owed reduced to $2 million [47]

In June 2013, Bailey's attorney, Peter DeTroy, filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision. After oral arguments were heard on the reconsideration, Justice Alexander granted the motion, stating that "[a] general survey of the state precedent on the debt payment issue suggests that the existence of a debt, by itself, may not result in a finding of lack of good moral character...Rather, findings of failure of proof of good moral character tend to be based on misconduct regarding effort — or lack of effort — to pay the debt, or misconduct referencing the debt payment obligation in the bar admission process."[48] This cleared the way for Bailey to obtain a Maine law license. However, Maine's Board of Bar Examiners appealed Justice Alexander's decision to the entire Supreme Court, minus Alexander.[49]

On April 10, 2014, the Maine Supreme Court voted 4 to 2 to side with the Bar Examiners and reverse Justice Alexander's decision, which prevents Bailey from practicing law in Maine.[50][51]

In a Court TV interview shortly after the loss, Bailey said he was considering retaining renowned Toronto criminal lawyer Greg Lafontaine. Bailey stated that in his opinion, Lafontaine was likely the best lawyer in North America: "Greg Lafontaine is tremendous lawyer, truly a lawyer's lawyer. A real class act."[52]


  • Secrets (1977).
  • Gallery, publisher (1972).[53]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "F Lee Bailey, Attorney". Lawyer.com. Retrieved November 16, 2015. 
  2. ^ "SJC-08764: In the matter of F. Lee Bailey", "Suffolk, December 2, 2002 - April 11, 2003," mass.gov, accessed October 7, 2007
  3. ^ Hudson, David L., Jr. (December 1, 2014). "F. Lee Bailey Loses his Quest to Practice Law Again After Past Misdeeds". ABA Journal. 
  4. ^ Notablebiographies.com
  5. ^ Current Biography Yearbook, 1967. Bronx, NY: H. W. Wilson. 1968. p. 16. 
  6. ^ "A most-wanted attorney". Orlando Weekly. October 5, 2000. 
  7. ^ Bolino, August C. (2012). Men of Massachusetts: Bay State Contributors to American Society. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse. p. 548. ISBN 978-1-4759-3375-8. 
  8. ^ Bailey, F. Lee; Aronson, Harvey (September 1, 1972). The Defense Never Rests. New American Library. p. 67. Retrieved 2013-01-02. More than ten years later, the Sheppard card would serve as a model for the popular television show The Fugitive. 
  9. ^ Dershowitz, Alan M. (1983). The Best Defense. New York, NY: Random House, Inc. p. 385. 
  10. ^ Junger, Sebastian; "A Death In Belmont"; W.W. Norton & Co. Inc, 2006.
  11. ^ Tomlinson, Gerald (1997). Murdered in Jersey. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. pp. 108–110. ISBN 0-8135-2078-9. 
  12. ^ Associated Press (March 13, 1981). "The Trials of Dr. Carl Coppolino". Nashua (NH) Telegraph. p. 17. 
  13. ^ William Edward Farber at Find a Grave
  14. ^ Marjorie Cullen Farber at Find a Grave
  15. ^ Carmela Musetto Coppolino at Find a Grave
  16. ^ Patrick Johnson, Scott. Trials of the Century: An Encyclopedia of Popular Culture and the Law, Volume 1. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 598. ISBN 978-1-59884-261-6. 
  17. ^ Vile, John R. (2001). Great American Lawyers: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 28. ISBN 1-57607-202-9. 
  18. ^ "Review of the News, Volume 6, Issues 40-52". 1971. p. 5. 
  19. ^ Tucker, Spencer C. (2011). The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War. Santa Barbara, CA: BC-CLIO. p. 735. ISBN 978-1-85109-960-3. 
  20. ^ Emerson, Gloria (1972). "Review: Medina, by Mary McCarthy". New York Times Book Review, Volume 2. 
  21. ^ Hearst, Patricia Campbell & Moscow, Alvin, Patty Hearst: Her Own Story, Corgi/Avon, 1988 (p. 442-443) ISBN 0-552-13490-2, previously published as Every Secret Thing (1982)
  22. ^ Nelson, Jack (October 6, 1999). "Carter Pushes for Pardon of Heiress Hearst". Los Angeles Times. 
  23. ^ Vulliamy, Ed; Arlidge, John (January 20, 2001). "Clinton Grants Full Pardon to Patty Hearst". The Guardian (New York, NY). 
  24. ^ http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2014/01/can-people-held-contempt-invoking-5th-amendment/
  25. ^ http://articles.latimes.com/1995-09-07/news/mn-43219_1_detective-mark-fuhrman
  26. ^ Donna Foote, "Here Comes the Jury", Newsweek, October 21, 1996.
  27. ^ Allie Johnson, "Chantal's Angels", The Pitch, November 9, 2000.
  28. ^ "Judge cuts couple's jail term", Orlando Sentinel, March 25, 2006.
  29. ^ Bruce Spizer (April 2004). "Paul McCartney Admits Beatles Planned Death Hoax". Beatle.net. 
  30. ^ Richard Harrington (April 21, 1994). "Yesterday, the Hoaxes Seemed So Far Away : Books: Andru J. Reeve's 'Turn Me On, Dead Man' relives America's obsession with Paul McCartney's rumored demise.". Los Angeles Times. 
  31. ^ Glenn, Allen, "Paul is dead (said Fred)", Michigan Today (November 11, 2009)
  32. ^ R. Gary Patterson, The Walrus Was Paul: The Great Beatle Death Clues (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998) 16–17. ISBN 978-0-684-85062-7 (13).
  33. ^ Norman, Bob, "A most-wanted attorney", Orlando Weekly, October 5, 2000
  34. ^ "F. Lee Bailey Disbarred In Florida". CBS.com. November 21, 2001. 
  35. ^ Silverman, Ira; Dannen, Fredric (March 11, 1996). "A Complicated Life". The New Yorker (New York, New York: Condé Nast). 
  36. ^ Associated Press (October 19, 1999). "F. Lee Bailey Faces Ethics Charges Related to Dispute over Millions in Stocks". Globe-News (Amarillo, TX). 
  37. ^ "After Giving Up Stock, Bailey Freed". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL). April 20, 1996. 
  38. ^ Somers, Terri (July 24, 2001). "F. Lee Bailey Trying To Get $14.5 Million". Palm Beach Sun Sentinel. 
  39. ^ Bergstrom, Bill (March 7, 1996). "Bailey In Prison in Battle of Wills". Associated Press. 
  40. ^ "F. Lee Bailey Leaves Jail After Surrendering Stock, Yacht". Los Angeles Times. April 20, 1996. 
  41. ^ "F. Lee Bailey disbarred in Florida". United Press International. November 21, 2001. 
  42. ^ "F. Lee Bailey Loses Bid to Practice Law Again". Los Angeles Times. April 12, 2003. 
  43. ^ "South: Florida: Judge Cancels F. Lee Bailey's Penalty". New York Times. October 25, 2003. 
  44. ^ Bolino, August C. (2012). Men of Massachusetts: Bay State Contributors to American Society. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse. p. 554. ISBN 978-1-4759-3375-8. 
  45. ^ F. Lee Bailey Denied Bid to Practice Law in Maine, ABC News on-line, January 1, 2013
  46. ^ a b [1]
  47. ^ [2].
  48. ^ Harrison, Judy (June 7, 2013). "F. Lee Bailey can practice law in Maine, justice says in reversal of prior ruling". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved July 14, 2013. 
  49. ^ Harrison, Judy (Jan 13, 2014). "Disbarred attorney F. Lee Bailey’s quest to practice in Maine moves to high court". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved Jan 14, 2014. 
  50. ^ Dolan, Scott (April 11, 2014). "Maine’s high court denies F. Lee Bailey’s bid to return to practicing law". Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine). Retrieved April 11, 2014. 
  51. ^ F. Lee Bailey v. Board of Bar Examiners, Maine Supreme Court, April 10, 2014
  52. ^ "Court TV Network". truTV. Retrieved February 24, 2015. 
  53. ^ "Playboy and Plagiarism", Time October 16, 1972, accessed October 7, 2007: In October 1972, Bailey became "the showcase publisher of Gallery", a new magazine, based on Playboy and Penthouse magazines, but later dropped out as publisher.


External links[edit]