Former high-profile attorney denied Maine Bar admittance

F. Lee Bailey, a longtime attorney who has represented many high-profile clients, including O.J. Simpson and Patty Hearst, was denied a bid to practice law in Maine.

Gabor Degre, Bangor Daily News (file)

Dennis Dechaine, left, seen with famed defense attorney F. Lee Bailey in 2009. (file)

Bailey, 79, passed the Maine Bar Examination in February. He had been licensed in Massachusetts and, later, in Florida. But he was disbarred in both of those states in the early 2000s following a Florida Supreme Court ruling on seven counts of attorney misconduct stemming from his handling of a case involving an accused marijuana dealer.

Bailey spent 44 days in federal prison before he was released after repaying millions of dollars worth of stock in a pharmaceutical company he had transferred from his former client's assets.

"Mr. Bailey has not met his burden of demonstrating by clear and convincing evidence that he possesses the requisite good character and fitness necessary for admission to the Maine Bar," five members of the State of Maine Board of Bar Examiners concluded in a 22-page decision in November.

Four other members of the board wrote a minority opinion in a seven-page dissent.

In it, they said that Bailey had demonstrated "by clear and convincing evidence that he has the moral qualifications, competency and learning in the law and has otherwise satisfied the factors established by the Maine Bar."

The majority members pointed to a number of factors that guided their decision, including the disbarments, recurring income tax questions and Bailey's uncertain residency status.

Bailey appeared before the Maine Board of Bar Examiners on Oct. 31 to "resolve doubt regarding Bailey's good character and fitness to practice law in light of the past disbarments," the majority members wrote.

At that hearing, Bailey presented several witnesses who testified on his behalf, including Deborah Elliott, his partner, with whom he lives in Yarmouth.

He also offered to be supervised by Maine attorney Stephen J. Schwartz, who had agreed to confer monthly with Bailey regarding case management and clients' funds.

According to the Board's written report, Kenneth Fishman, an associate Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court who had worked with Bailey as a law partner and continues their friendship, said the case resulting in Bailey's disbarment was an "aberration" and that "Bailey's demeanor since (the Claude) Duboc (case) is now less arrogant and 'far more humble' than before."

Bailey also submitted numerous affidavits and letters that spoke to his good character, including former Maine Gov. John Baldacci.

The majority report cites a Maine Bar rule that says it treats an attorney who has been disbarred in any other state "as if the attorney has been disbarred also in Maine."

One of the six factors the Board is required to consider in determining whether an applicant should be readmitted to the Bar is whether "the petitioner recognizes the wrongfulness and seriousness of the misconduct."

The majority of the Board concluded that he had not recognized the wrongfulness of his past conduct.

"Rather than accepting that he was disbarred because of his own misconduct, Bailey continues to place blame elsewhere," the majority wrote.

The Board members also wrote that Bailey was "less than forthright with this Board throughout the admissions process."

The Sun Journal was unable to reach Bailey for comment Monday.

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Steve  Dosh's picture

Former high-profile attorney denied Maine Bar admittance

[This comment was removed by the administrator]

David Marsters's picture

F. Lee Bailey

I would like to commend the Board on their discision to bar, my cousin, F. Lee for not letting him practice in Maine. When he passes on and goes to the other side, he can join up with his aunt, Esther Jordan, also a disbarred lawyer from Mass. years ago. She was the first female lawyer disbarred in Mass. Made history books.Maybe they can start a practice together. Esther also was disbarred for usuing clients money for her own gain. Must run in the family.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Dave.13.01.01 17:17 hst ? . .

Dave.13.01.01 17:17 hst ?
. . .Naah . We don't really think so :)
Q : What do you get when you cross a crooked lawyer with a crooked politician ?
A : Chelsea Clinton ?
/s , Steve , Ombudsman

Catherine Pressey's picture

Naah to you Steve Dosh

DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT THE CLNTON'S HOLD THE CORNER ON THAT MARKET, NAAH TO YOU, NOT NICE MR. DOSH CHELSEA CLINTON, not funny to me I am a Democrat, born into a Republican family. And my dad would turn over in his grave to know how low the Republican Party has gone to protect the very Rich at the expense of those in need, indeed. Shame on you steve. What the Ombudsman about???? Do you think you, are speaking for we the people, I personally did not apoint you! lol

Catherine Pressey's picture

cousin F. Lee/ David

Wow! here in the Maine woods, as for useing clients money for their own gain, sounds like all lawyers and politicians, as they say is there a honest one among them? Our bar should have more control over the judges who screw the abused women in Maine not enough to try to divorce someone that is abusive, but than ya get abused by the lawyer and the judge both, and together.. Yep! Like anything ya canna fight city hall, ya take the lickin and give it up. Try to hire a lawyer to sue one. now that is the wolf guarding the chicken coup. Really! Maybe we dodged a bullet here.


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