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Quotes of the day: F. Lee Bailey

Published Tuesday, June 10, 2014 @ 12:00 AM EDT
Jun 10 2014

(Gregory Rec, Portland Press Herald)

Francis Lee Bailey, Jr. (b. June 10, 1933) is a former American criminal defense attorney, author, polygraph expert and public speaker, who participated in a number of high-profile trials in the mid to late 20th century. He was disbarred in 2001 after being found guilty of seven counts of attorney misconduct by the Florida Supreme Court and in 2003 by a reciprocal disbarment in Massachusetts, which also declined to reinstate his license in 2005. In 2012 Bailey passed the Maine bar examination and applied for a law license, which was ultimately rejected in April, 2014. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A person in the business of defending criminal cases is going to live in controversy all of his or her life.

Can any of you seriously say the Bill of Rights could get through Congress today? It wouldn't even get out of committee.

Each lawyer makes somebody unhappy either by beating him, embarrassing him or tying him in knots.

I get paid for seeing that my clients have every break the law allows. I have knowingly defended a number of guilty men. But the guilty never escape unscathed. My fees are sufficient punishment for anyone.

I have never seen a major trial which lacked significant perjury, and I have yet to see that perjury punished.

I use the rules to frustrate the law. But I didn't set up the ground rules.

I would strongly recommend any young man to stay away from criminal law. It's not a good place to be, unfortunately.

In America, an acquittal doesn't mean you're innocent, it means you beat the rap. My clients lose even when they win.

Most people think that 'I don't recall' is a clever answer. But it isn't that clever. You might not recall that you had bacon and eggs for breakfast- but if you killed your mother, you'll remember it.

My experience is, people who retire die sooner than they should have.

The legal profession is a business with a tremendous collection of egos. Few people who are not strong egotistically gravitate to it.

The memory of the American public is about six weeks.

The people I have no feeling for are professional killers. But I count that man no worse than a governor who won't commute a death sentence because it's unpolitical.

The public regards lawyers with great distrust. They think lawyers are smarter than the average guy but use their intelligence deviously. Well, they're wrong. Usually they are not smarter.

The quality of news coverage has diminished, because giants of the print media are no longer being nurtured properly.

The worst men often give the best advice; our thoughts are better sometimes than our deeds.

Those who think the information brought out at a criminal trial is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth are fools. Prosecuting or defending a case is nothing more than getting to those people who will talk for your side, who will say what you want said.

When you see a lawyer trying to pick a smart jury, you know he's got a strong case.


(Today is also the birthday of Saul Bellow)

Categories: F. Lee Bailey, Quotes of the day

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