Before taking on the trial of the decade, Jose Baez, Casey Anthony’s lawyer, was a little-known attorney located in the tiny town of Kissimmee, Florida.
According to AOL, his small town status exploded when Casey Anthony contacted him. Baez was recommended to Anthony by inmates in prison, and Anthony reached out to Baez for support. She needed a good lawyer in order to eradicate charges that she killed her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.
For Baez, that meant a huge payout if he was successful in preventing Anthony from being charged. It also meant success and attention for a once unknown lawyer.
Baez, 42, was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in the Bronx, N.Y. He eventually lived in South Florida with his single mother. Baez dropped out of high school in ninth grade, and at the age of 17 became a father and a husband.
Fatherhood changed Baez, and as a result he earned a GED and joined the Navy. Eventually he attended college and graduated from St. Thomas University School of Law in South Florida in 1997.
Shortly after graduating from college, his shaky past resurfaced. He divorced his wife, and failed to keep up with $200 child support payments for his only child. At this point he declared bankruptcy and liens were filed against Baez for failure to repay loans. Resulting from his financial uncertainty, he was not allowed to practice law for a period of time, a decision by the Florida Supreme Court.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the court believed that Baez’ behavior showed “a total lack of respect for the rights of others and a total lack of respect for the legal system, which is absolutely inconsistent with the character and fitness qualities required of those seeking to be afforded the highest position of trust and confidence recognized by our system of law.”
Following this Baez started four businesses, including two bikini companies known as Bon Bon Bikinis and Brazilian-Bikinis.com. He continued the bikini lines until he was readmitted into the bar in September 2005.
Three years later, Baez entered the courtroom of the Casey Anthony trial promising to his client that she would not be proven guilty.