Over the course of a long and active life, I have had many experiences which stick in the memory. Some were startling, some were quirky, and many were just fun. A couple of the books I have written over the years have generated irritated calls from friends who complained: “Lee, goddamit, I stayed up all night. You’re supposed to put some break points where a reader can stop and get some sleep.” These four anecdotes, and the many which I hope will follow, are short, largely self-contained, and hopefully amusing. You should try one or two. New ones will appear from time to time, so if you like them, check back. You are free to use them as you wish - they are not copyrighted or otherwise protected. Enjoy.
         -F. Lee Bailey
It has been just over fifteen years since, on October 3, 1995, a Los Angeles jury, after a trial lasting more than eight months, acquitted Orenthal James Simpson of double murder, after very short deliberations. A photo taken at the moment the verdict was announced was published in every country in the world that had media facilities. Depending on one’s race, in many instances, cheers or groans erupted. In the days that followed, a backlash against the verdict and Simpson began to swell among the majority, with redneck types shouting the loudest. Never in my experience has a summarily acquitted defendant been the subject of such anger and derision.  CONTINUE READING
                THE STORM OF THE CENTURY
I was giving the closing lecture at the annual meeting of the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association at the Doral Hotel in Miami, after which most of the members planned to go to their aircraft and set out for airports across the country. I was about to end my speech and wish them Godspeed and fair skies to their respective destinations, when suddenly I was handed a note at the podium. I read it with alarm...   CONTINUE READING
                GEORGE FITZSIMMONS
Back in the late sixties I was rather highly visible in the news media, due to the confluence of the Boston Strangler multiple murder case, Dr. Sam Sheppard's murder case, two Dr. Carl Coppolino murder cases, and the “Great Plymouth Mail Robbery”. Due to the publicity attending these cases, we got a lot of crazy mail. Sometimes it would be passed over my desk just because it was humorous. Frequently it had to be deposited in what was called the circular file. A typical letter of this ilk would slyly tempt me with the notion that: "Dear Mr. Bailey, I have no money but I can make you famous if you take my case."   CONTINUE READING
                 FRANKIE VITA
One of my classmates in law school was a blond, blue-eyed, handsome Italian named Frankie Vita, whose wide grin disclosed a chipped front tooth, which he declined to have capped because it was "part of his persona". Frankie was a fair student, but expressed himself with the vocabulary of a tank commander trained by General George Patton in World War II. He was brought up in Boston's North End where the "Mafia" had its headquarters, and was generally a rough, tough, but likeable guy. We, his classmates, were somewhat discomfited to learn that Frankie had decided to become a trial lawyer, since we were convinced that his language habits would surely land him in contempt of court, if not in jail. We sort of took turns trying to discipline Frankie into cleaning up his act, although I confess that - due in part to my whirligig schedule - my contribution to this rehabilitative effort was not great...  CONTINUE READING
                 CHAIRMAN McDONALD
In 1977, the case of United States v. Peter McDonald went to trial in Phoenix, Arizona. Peter was then the Chairman of the Navajo Indian Tribe, headquartered in Window Rock, Arizona, and by all accounts was one of the most active chairmen the tribe had ever known. He was credited for "getting out the Navajo vote" in Arizona's 1976 Senatorial election which resulted in a triumph for Democratic Candidate Dennis DiConcini. It was said that this did not sit at all well with Arizona's patriarchal Senator, Barry Goldwater, who was solidly in favor of denying residence in that state to all non-republicans. In what many viewed as a vengeance move, the United States Attorney in Arizona indicted McDonald for mail fraud. The essence of the charged offenses involved kickbacks from an airplane charter company, which allegedly happened this way... CONTINUE READING