Saturday, September 23, 2023
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Maine Refuses to Admit Disbarred F. Lee Bailey

(CN) - F. Lee Bailey, a legendary litigator whose former clients include O.J. Simpson and the Boston Strangler, cannot practice law in Maine, the state's highest court ruled.

The 80-year-old Bailey had applied to practice law in the Pine Tree State in 2012, more than 10 years after Florida had disbarred him for misappropriating and commingling client assets.

Florida had disciplined Bailey with respect to his representation of Claude Duboc against drug-smuggling and money-laundering charges. The court found that Bailey had transferred to himself more than $3 million from the sale of Duboc's stocks in a company called Biochem Pharma, which had increased in value while he was managing them.

In Maine, where Bailey has a home, the Board of Bar Examiners voted 5-4 not to admit him to the bar.

Bailey's appeal led a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court to find that Bailey possessed the good character and fitness to practice law in Maine.

The Board of Bar Examiners appealed the ruling to the Maine Supreme Court, which reversed on April 10.

Bailey had not "recognized the wrongfulness and seriousness" of the conduct that got him into trouble in Florida, the court found.

"Bailey adheres to the view that it was reasonable to believe that he was entitled to use the stock to pay himself the attorney fees he believes he was owed, and to treat the appreciated value of the Biochem stock as his own, because the parties had agreed to transfer the stock to him in 'fee simple and without restriction,'" Justice Jon Levy wrote for the court.

The justices added that Bailey continues to dispute the assertion that he misappropriated more than $3 million of his client's property.

"The evidence in the record does not support the conclusion that it is highly probable that Bailey recognizes the wrongfulness and seriousness of his misappropriation of the Biochem stock proceeds, as required by the clear and convincing evidence burden of proof," Levy wrote.

Bailey's former roster of high-profile clients also featured Patty Hearst and Sam Sheppard.

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