Because of the way he handled stock in a marijuana case, he was decided unfit to practice law, and he was disbarred in Florida, and the reciprocal disbarment came in Massachusetts also. Thereafter, he couldn’t even get a license to practice law in Maine, even after passing the bar exam. It was just an unfortunate set of choices that completely derailed F. Lee Bailey’s legal career. He was found guilty on seven different counts of misconduct in the case involving his handling of stock from a marijuana dealer. He transferred a lot of DuBoc’s assets into his own accounts, even though DuBoc was scheduled to give them back to the U.S. federal government. The stock that he had transferred into his account had increased in value from $6 million to $20 million, and Mr. Bailey had used the stock as collateral to get loans. Until he get out of that, he had to stay in prison, and that last 44 days. Finally, his brother was able to get the money together and get him out. He failed in his attempt to get his law license back in Massachusetts, and he subsequently failed in Maine. It didn’t matter that he had had a string of high-profile cases, or that he was a highly successful lawyer, but it only mattered about his misconduct. However, not all the board of examiners in Maine agreed with the disbarment. Four of them voted to give him his law license back. Bailey was charged with presenting convincing and clear evidence that he had requisite honesty and integrity to practice law, and he didn’t show that.
Bailey got disbarment, essentially, because he mishandled several hundred thousand of stock shares that were owned by a client of his who is currently doing a life sentence for smuggling drugs. Bailey got the stock when it was worth $6 million for his work on the case. Federal prosecutors said that the stocks were going to be seized, and that he had just gotten control of it for a short period of time for limited purposes.
He at first refused to give up the stock, but he had a change of heart after spending a month and a half in federal prison. The unanimous decision given by the Supreme Court said that he only had a month to shutter his practice.
The Supreme Court mentioned that Bailey was responsible for some of the most egregious and account violations of trust for his stock handling in the case.
He was meant to use the stock for Duboc’s forfeiture requirement for a plea deal with prosecutors. However, Bailey acted as if the money like it was his own money when he was given control of it. The court said that Bailey, instead of keeping the cash from the stock sale apart, mixed it in with his own money in his personal bank account, secured a credit line on it, and he also sold a portion of it.
There were several rules violations, and his disbarment was recommended.
Bailey represented the client in a case of drug smuggling, and he inked out a bargain the prosecutors, and the drug smuggler would plead guilty and give up all his assets to federal government. Amongst the assets were about $6 million in stock.
The deal was for Bailey to put the funds toward liquidating his other assets, comprising two big properties in France, art works, boats, and car collections. The two estates required huge amounts of cash to maintain them they were in the middle of being sold.
Bailey couldn’t do a bar exam application for five years, per the order. Afterward, if he were going to apply again, he would need to take the bar exam again and go through a character and background check.
Now, F. Lee Bailey is just known as a former high-profile attorney, and he can’t even practice law, or get accepted to the bar where he applied. However, during his Maine bar examination hearing, four members of the board dissented and wrote a seven-page opinion. Mr. Bailey is 79 now, and he is getting up there in years. A number of things helped guide their decision, including recurring income tax questions, uncertain residency status, and the disbarments. Mr. Bailey was deemed unfit to practice law because he had not shown convincing and clear evidence that he had the integrity and honesty to practice law. It wasn’t about the ability to pass the bar examination or be a functioning lawyer. It was about his personal character and record of past misconduct that prevented him from getting accepted to the bar in Maine. It just goes to show you how important ethics are in the practice of law.
Several witnesses testified at the hearing on his behalf, including his partner who he lives with. He also said he would be supervised by another Maine attorney, and he had agreed to talk monthly with Bailey about his clients’ funds and case management.
A former law partner of Bailey’s said that the disbarment was a kind of aberration, and that his cavalier attitude since the disbarment had changed, and that he wasn’t as arrogant and much more humble now.