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Maine High Court Denies F. Lee Bailey a Law License
04/10/2014   Reported By: Tom Porter

Celebrity defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey has been denied the right to practice law in Maine in a 4-2 decision by Maine's highest court. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court vacated an earlier decision by a single justice authorizing Bailey's admission to the Maine Bar - on the condition that he pay the nearly $2 million in back taxes he owed to the federal government. Tom Porter has more.

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Bailey had previously been disbarred in Florida in 2001 for mishandling $6 million worth of stock belonging to a client. He was later disbarred in Massachusetts as well.

In its 59-page decision, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court said that Bailey had "failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he recognizes the wrongfulness and seriousness of the misconduct that resulted in his disbarment."

"I think this is the end of the road, to be realistic," says Bailey. Reached by cellphone Thursday afternoon, Bailey seems to have accepted that his legal career is over.

Now 80 years old, F. Lee Bailey first rose to prominence nearly 50 years ago for his successful defense in the retrial of Dr. Samuel Sheppard - also known as "The Fugitive" - the Ohio physician wrongly imprisoned for murdering his wife. He has also represented such celebrity clients as O.J. Simpson and newspaper-heiress-turned-bank-robber Patty Hearst.

Bailey says he's disappointed in the Maine Supreme Court ruling. "Obivously, I am the inspiration for a lot of disagreement among members of the bar and judges," he says.

Bailey, who also operates a business consultancy, says that while his legal career is over, he's not ready for retirement yet. "So, I will just keep on trucking and not worry much about being a trial lawyer in the future. I've got a lot of other things to do."

"The board is pleased that the court affirmed our decision and that the process has had an opportunity to work its way out and be fully adjudicated," says Dr. Jeffrey Barkin, a member of the Maine Board of Bar Examiners, which launched the appeal aiming to prevent Bailey from gettting his license.

The bottom line, as far as the board's concerned, says Barkin, is that because Bailey was disbarred in two other states, he is precluded from admittance to the Maine Bar.

"That was really the whole issue," Barkin says. "From the way that we saw it, is that if an attorney is disbarred, it makes entering the jurisdiction of Maine very, very problematic. And the issues that occured in other states - in Florida and Massaschusetts - gave the board sufficient pause to not want to admit Mr. Bailey to the bar."

View the Maine Supreme Court decision.



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