PORTLAND — F. Lee Bailey, the famed lawyer who represented O.J. Simpson and Patty Hearst in California before being disbarred in other states, testified before a Maine Supreme Judicial Court judge Thursday in an effort to overturn a decision denying him a license to practice law in Maine.

Bailey, 79, passed the state bar exam last winter but was denied admission by the Maine Board of Bar Examiners in November in a 5-4 decision.

Bailey, who has lived in Yarmouth since 2010, took the stand as a witness in the second day of a two-day hearing on his appeal to become a lawyer again.

In a gravelly voice, he recalled his actions from 15 and 20 years ago that led to his disbarment.

He was licensed to practice in Massachusetts and Florida, but was disbarred in both states for mishandling nearly $6 million in stocks for a client.

In the decision denying Bailey a license, the Board of Bar Examiners wrote that he has not demonstrated “by clear and convincing evidence that he possesses the requisite good character and fitness necessary for admission to the Maine bar.”

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Knowlton argued to uphold that decision, and attorney Peter DeTroy represented Bailey in seeking to overturn it.

Justice Donald Alexander, who heard the case alone, asked Knowlton and DeTroy to submit their closing arguments in writing by Wednesday morning, before he makes a decision.

“We feel that Mr. Bailey has just a tremendous amount to offer the state,” DeTroy said after the hearing.

Bailey said he hadn’t considered going back into law before he moved to Maine.

“I was pretty disappointed about the practice of law until I got up here,” he said. “All these lawyers are all honest people and practice without any dirty tricks.”

He said he has some “good cross-examination left in me” and he wants to be able to share what he has learned in his years as a defense attorney

“I’m still in pretty good health, and I’m as sharp mentally,” Bailey said.

He then quipped, “I can’t run as fast.”

 


Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at
sdolan@pressherald.com