Famous lawyer F. Lee Bailey, who defended OJ Simpson, has died at 87

Top line

Longtime criminal defense attorney F. Lee Bailey, who has helped acquit high profile clients like OJ Simpson and Samuel Sheppard, died 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 series of high profile clients as well as numerous legal issues.

He was perhaps best known for being a member of the legal “Dream Team” which successfully defended OJ Simpson in his murder trial in 1995, along with Johnnie Cochran and Alan Dershowitz.

Bailey’s cross-examination of former Los Angeles Police Department detective Mark Fuhrman, where Fuhrman perjured himself by claiming he did not use the N word, is widely regarded as one of the most memorable moments of the trial.

The trial came at the end of a long career for Bailey, long after he first entered national limelight 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 an arrest for DWI in 1982, followed by allegations of financial misconduct in the 1990s, which ultimately led to his delisting in Florida in 2001 and Massachusetts in 2003.

Other notable clients included Albert DeSalvo (better known as “Boston Strangler”), Ernest Medina (the commander of the army unit that carried out the My Lai massacre) and Patty Hearst (the heiress of the edition which was convicted of bank robbery).

Surprising fact

Simpson was the first to go public on Thursday, calling Bailey a “great friend” and saying he was “the only lawyer” who visited him every morning and briefed him on the legal team’s plans during the trial.

Key context

Bailey was known for his brash and confrontational demeanor in the courtroom, which helped elevate his celebrity status and attract media attention to the trials he participated in. That success lent itself to a lavish lifestyle, with Bailey buying “dozens of planes, helicopters, vintage cars and boats,” according to The Boston Globe, while he has also made regular appearances on television shows. But his career had largely collapsed in the 1990s and he filed for bankruptcy in 2016. Bailey’s cause of death on Thursday was not immediately known. He died in Georgia, according to the World.

Further reading

F. Lee Bailey, brilliant and brash lawyer in high-profile lawsuits, dies (The Boston Globe)

F. Lee Bailey’s bankruptcy rooted in poor record keeping (Forbes)

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