Bailey, F. Lee

Bailey, F. Lee

Bailey, F. Lee (Francis Lee Bailey), 1933-2021, American lawyer, b. Waltham, Ma., Boston Univ. Law School (J.D., 1960). Bailey attended Harvard for two years before dropping out to join the Navy and then becoming a Marine fighter pilot. On his discharge in 1956, he was admitted to Boston Univ. Law School. Following his graduation in 1960, he took on his first high-profile case, the so-called “Torso Murder Case,” in which an auto mechanic was charged with killing and dismembering his wife; Bailey won him an acquittal, his first of many dramatic wins. In 1966, he won acquittal for Dr. Sam Sheppard, the inspiration for the fictional TV series The Fugitive, which won national publicity for the young lawyer. Other noteworthy cases that Bailey defended included Albert DeSalvo, who claimed to be the Boston Strangler; DeSalvo was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison (1967); Capt. Ernest L. Medina, accused of participating in the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War (acquitted, 1971); and Patty Hearst, who was accused of bank robbery and using a firearm in committing a felony (convicted, 1976). His last national exposure came as part of the so-called “Dream Team” defending O.J. Simpson on murder charges in 1995. Bailey became well-known through his frequent TV appearances and his many popular books on his defense strategy. His later years were beset with controversy; he spent 43 days in jail in 1996 for refusing to turn over fees to the court that he had collected from a convicted drug trafficker, and in 2001 Florida’s Supreme Court disbarred him for stock fraud. (His home state of Massachusetts followed suit in 2003). He attempted to be admitted to the bar in Maine in 2013, but was denied, and in 2016 he filed for bankruptcy there.


See his The Defense Never Rests: The Art of Cross-Examination (1971, with H. Aronson), For the Defense (1975, with J. Greenya).

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Bailey, F. (Francis) Lee

(1933–  ) lawyer; born in Waltham, Mass. Following service as a marine pilot, he was admitted to the bar in 1960. A controversial figure, he gained spectacular success as a defense attorney in the Torso Murder case (1960), the re-trial of Dr. Sam Sheppard (1966), the Boston Strangler case (1966), and many others. His forte was meticulous investigation before a trial and methodical presentation in the courtroom.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.