F. Lee Bailey, famed lawyer on O.J. Simpson dream team, has died

F Lee Bailey famed lawyer on OJ Simpson dream team
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F. Lee Bailey, the famed lawyer who represented O.J. Simpson, Patty Hearst and other high-profile defendants in sensational trials that captivated the nation, only to see his flamboyant career end in disbarment, has died at a hospice centere in Atlanta.

Bailey, who spent much of his final years in a small village on the coast of Maine, died Thursday, the Washington Post reported. He was 87.

While still in his 20s, Bailey came to fame in 1966 when he won a reversal in the murder conviction of Dr. Sam Sheppard, whose story was reportedly the basis for “The Fugitive” TV series and film. The attorney, who was celebrated and feared for his ability to lacerate witness testimony on cross-examination, then won an acquittal in 1971 for Army Capt. Ernest Medina, accused in connection with atrocities during the Vietnam War.

Never one to shy from publicity, Bailey held frequent news conferences during his high-voltage trials and appeared on numerous TV talk shows, making him one of the most famous lawyers of his time.

But his courtroom tactics and thirst for publicity were often criticized in the legal community, and his loss in the 1976 Patricia Hearst trial, in which the kidnapping victim was accused of participating in a bank robbery staged by her captors, caused his career to lose luster. Although he was part of the winning legal team during the 1995 O.J. Simpson criminal trial, his role was both slight and controversial.

Financial and personal troubles mounted for Bailey after the Simpson trial. His actions while defending a drug trafficker in Florida led to his being jailed in 1996, then disbarred, ending his courtroom career. His attempt to regain his legal license when he was in his late 70s was rejected by the Supreme Court of Maine, where he had retreated to after being disbarred.

Bailey was at one time the most famous trial attorney in the country

Colker is a former Times staff writer

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