Celebrity lawyer F. Lee Bailey, known for his role in the O.J. Simpson trial and other sensational cases, has died at the age of 87.
According to The Washington Times, Bailey passed away from natural causes in Georgia on Thursday, where he was living in hospice care, his son said.
Leaving a legacy
Over the course of his career, Bailey became known as an aggressive lawyer who chased controversial clients. He was criticized by some as a narcissist and praised by others as a daring star who took on tough cases, and often won, as the Associated Press noted.
Among his clients were the self-avowed serial killer known as the Boston Strangler and Captain Medina, who Bailey helped acquit of war crimes in the Vietnam War’s My Lai massacre, according to the BBC.
Reports said Bailey gained notoriety in the 1960s for winning a second trial, and then acquittal, for Dr. Sam Sheppard, who was convicted of killing his pregnant wife in 1954.
Decades later, he helped win an acquittal in the “trial of the century” for Simpson in the murders of Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, the AP reported.
At a pivotal moment in the trial, Bailey famously cross-examined Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective Mark Fuhrman, who the defense accused of planting a bloody glove as part of what they called a racially motivated conspiracy to frame Simpson, who was later acquitted by a mostly Black jury, according to The Washington Times.
Clients pay tribute
In the ’70s, Bailey had a notable setback with the case of Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. According to the AP, he unsuccessfully argued that the left-wing Symbionese Liberation Army, which had kidnapped Heart for ransom, had coerced her into committing bank robberies.
Hearst later denounced Bailey as a poor lawyer and an opportunist who was seeking to profit off the publicity of her trial, the AP noted. At the time of his death, Bailey was said to be still cashing in on the Simpson trial with a new book.
Once upbraided for his “philosophy of extreme egocentricity” by a Massachusetts judge, Bailey was disbarred in two states later in life, according to the AP. But friends described him as a keen professional, and Simpson paid tribute to Bailey as a “great friend” and “one of the great lawyers of our time.”
I lost a great one. F Lee Bailey you will be missed. pic.twitter.com/6s8JI3OQVB
— O.J. Simpson (@TheRealOJ32) June 3, 2021
Bailey married four times and divorced three times, according to reports. He is survived by three children.