The Baez Law Firm

In the Hernandez case, he relentlessly attacked the credibility of the prosecution’s star witness, an admitted drug dealer who was with Hernandez the night two men were killed in a drive-by shooting in Boston. Baez told the jury the man had identified Hernandez as the triggerman to get immunity and save his own skin.

Baez, 48, based in Florida, was relatively inexperienced and unknown before the Anthony trial.

While in law school, he had a one-day stint in the Miami-Dade County prosecutor’s office but said it “didn’t feel right” to him, so he walked across the street to the public defender’s office and offered to work there instead.

“I absolutely fell in love with it,” he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “I got to deal with real people and help them with real problems.”

During the Anthony trial, Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera popularized the nickname “Juanie Cochran” for Baez, comparing him to the late Johnnie Cochran, the flamboyant lawyer who helped win acquittal for O.J. Simpson.

Celebrity was something Baez never expected. He dropped out of high school and married his girlfriend after she became pregnant, and later earned his GED while in the Navy.

After getting his law degree at Florida’s St. Thomas University, the state bar association prevented him from practicing law for eight years, citing his failure to keep up with child support payments and other debts.

He was admitted to practice law in 2005, and just three years later took on the Anthony case. The trial fascinated the nation, with every twist and turn live-streamed and followed obsessively on social media and in the tabloids.

Jeff Ashton, one of the prosecutors in the Anthony case, derides Baez as a “wonderful salesman.”

“He’s not terribly professional in his demeanor,” Ashton said. “He just sort of does whatever he thinks he should do to sell the case without a whole lot of regard to whether it’s, in fact, ethically or legally the proper thing to do.”

Baez also represented Nilton Diaz, acquitted of murder but convicted of manslaughter in the death of the 2-year-old granddaughter of World Boxing Champion Wilfredo Vazquez. He also defended a 12-year-old girl charged with aggravated stalking in connection with the suicide of another girl. The charges were dropped.

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