Celebrity Attorney F. Lee Bailey—Who Defended O.J. Simpson—Has Died At 87
Longtime criminal defense attorney F. Lee Bailey—who helped acquit prominent clients like O.J. Simpson and Samuel Sheppard—died on Thursday at the age of 87, according to multiple reports, with Simpson being the first to break the news by posting a video on Twitter Thursday afternoon.
Bailey’s legal career spanned from the 1960s to the 2000s, marked by a string of high-profile clients along with numerous legal problems of his own.
He was perhaps best known for being a member of the legal “Dream Team” that successfully defended O.J. Simpson in his 1995 murder trial, along with the likes of Johnnie Cochran and Alan Dershowitz.
Bailey’s cross-examination of former Los Angeles Police Department Detective Mark Fuhrman, where Fuhrman committed perjury by claiming he had not used the N-word, is widely regarded as one of the most memorable moments of the trial.
The trial came near the end of a long career for Bailey, well after he first entered the national spotlight in the mid-1960s for successfully overturning the murder conviction of Samuel Sheppard, a neurosurgeon who had been accused of killing his wife in 1954.
Bailey’s own troubles included a DWI arrest in 1982, followed by claims of financial misconduct in the 1990s, which ultimately led to his disbarment in Florida in 2001 and Massachusetts in 2003.
Other notable clients included Albert DeSalvo (better known as the “Boston Strangler”), Ernest Medina (the commanding officer of the Army unit that carried out the My Lai Massacre) and Patty Hearst (the publishing heiress who was convicted of bank robbery).
Simpson was the first to make the news public on Thursday, calling Bailey a “great friend” and claiming he was “the one lawyer” who would visit him every morning and brief him on the legal team’s plans during the trial.
Bailey was known for his brash, confrontational demeanor inside the courtroom, which helped raise his own celebrity status and bring significant media attention to the trials he was a part of. That success lent itself to a lavish lifestyle, with Bailey purchasing “dozens of airplanes, helicopters, vintage cars, and boats,” according to The Boston Globe, while he also regularly made guest appearances on television shows. But his career had largely unraveled by the 1990s, and he filed for bankruptcy in 2016. Bailey’s cause of death Thursday was not immediately known. He died in Georgia, according to the Globe.