F. Lee Bailey Defends Patty Hearst

Patty HearstThe defense attorney F. Lee Bailey was involved with some of the most infamous criminal cases of the twentieth century. He defended OJ Simpson, the serial killer Albert DeSalvo, and Patty Hearst, a kidnapping victim unjustly tried for crimes she committed while under control of the Symbionese Liberation Army. She was not impressed with the defense he provided in her 1976 trial.

“The judge said, ‘You may proceed, Mr. Bailey.’ He rose from the defense table, grabbing an unruly stack of notes, and I could see that his hands were shaking. His hair was slightly mussed and his face was flushed. I wondered if he had been drinking at lunch. He detached the microphone from its stand at the attorney’s podium and began to address the jury without referring to his notes. Soon, he was talking of people eating each other in the Andes, of G. Gordon Liddy, of the plot of a book called A Covenant with Death, and he talked at length about himself and the difficult tasks of lawyers. It was not easy to follow his train of thought.

He seemed to be talking more about his difficulty in handling this case than about the specific evidence, more about what had appeared in the press than about what was said in the courtroom. And then disaster struck. As he swept his arm up in a gesture, he knocked a glass of water off the podium. The water dribbled down the front of his pants. Several members of the jury tittered. The judge smiled. But F. Lee Bailey went on talking, disregarding the ignobility of having wet his pants. (The jury had a good laugh about this later in the jury room.) It was, to say the least, distracting.”

Every Secret Thing, Patricia Campbell Hearst, with Alvin Moscow, Arrow Books, 1982.

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