Miami Housewife Lea Black was a juror in William Kennedy Smith trial defended by husband

Lisa Lea Haller

Lea Black is one the new cast members for Bravo’s Real Housewives of Miami.  In a previous profile post I briefly discussed her marriage to renowned defense attorney Roy Black.  In that write up I discovered that Roy’s most famous case was his successful defense of William Kennedy Smith when the member of the famed political Kennedy family was being charged for rape.  What I did not know at the time is that Lea Black was one of the jurors that found William Kennedy Smith not guilty!

In a story that comes across as “Real Housewives meets John Grisham” one Lisa Lea Haller was a member of the jury in one of the most publicized cases in Florida court history.

William Kennedy Smith, the nephew of JFK, had a few drinks at a bar in Palm Beach, FL on Good Friday March 29, 2001 with uncle Senator Ted Kennedy and his cousin Patrick Kennedy. After heading to a beach house with friends he later went on a beach stroll with a 29-year-old woman he had just met, Patricia Bowman.  During this private escapade Bowman claimed that she was raped by Smith.  While Smith did acknowledge that the two had sex that evening he argued it was consensual.

William Kennedy Smith trial
^William Kennedy Smith during his trial

What fueled the fire of speculation and sensationalism with this trial, along with the Kennedy name, is the fact that three separate women were willing to testify that Smith had sexually assaulted them in various incidents that occurred in the 80’s.  These accusations were never reported to the police and their testimonies were excluded leading to a full acquittal of all charges.

Here is footage of Roy Black’s closing argument from the trial.  We get a brief glimpse at the jury and on the far end leaning forward there appears to be a well dressed and jeweled lady that I’m guessing is the woman who would become his future wife and more importantly a Real Housewife of Miami!

People ran a great write up on how Lisa Lea Haller and Roy Black later became romantically involved following this very public trial.  First and foremost it needs to be said that no one except conspiracy theorists believe that Lea and Roy engaged in any wrong doing.  Even the prosecutor from the William Kennedy Smith trial defends their legitimacy:

Still, the Haller-Black union “begs the question of how they met,” says Moira Lasch, the prosecutor who lost to Black in the Kennedy Smith case. Lasch sounds stern for a second—then breaks into laughter; she is only teasing her old opponent. During a trial lawyers are prohibited from communicating with jurors outside the courtroom—but no one, including Lasch, believes Black broke any rules. Says Miami attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner, former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a friend of Black’s: “They started dating after the trial,” he says. “There was absolutely no impropriety whatsoever.”

The article also mentions that Lisa Lea Haller was one of the more outspoken jurors following the trial including an appearance on Donahue. Here’s the meat and bones of how the two later became lovers:

Seeing was believing too when Haller walked into the Palm Beach County courtroom for the first time in October 1991. “She was very good-looking,” Black recalls. But Black had no personal contact with the glamorous juror, he says, until she strolled into E.R. Bradley’s Saloon in Palm Beach on Dec. 11, the night the not-guilty verdict came in. “Haller hugged and kissed all of us,” says Pat McKenna, Black’s private investigator during the trial, who adds that Haller left a few minutes later.

The story would have ended there had Black and Haller not run into each other at a bar in the Colonnade Hotel in Coral Gables about nine months later. Black was then recently separated from his second wife, Naomi Morris Black, whom he had married in 1984 and with whom he has a 10-year-old daughter, his only child. Lea’, divorced from her first husband since 1983, was romantically involved with her business associate Al Perkins. But when the distinguished attorney asked her to dinner, she accepted. “I thought we were going to reminisce about the trial,” she says.

Six months later she broke off with Perkins and started dating Black. “I was shocked that I would ever go with a lawyer—and shocked that he would be interested in me,” says Haller. As she saw it, they lived in different worlds. Black, an only child whose parents divorced when he was young, grew up in New York City and later the Bahamas and became a nationally renowned legal powerhouse. Haller—the oldest of four sisters born to Lonnie and Marilyn Douthit (now divorced and remarried) in Waco, Texas—was a savvy saleswoman with a penchant for flashy clothes (including her wedding dress, which she describes as “a clinging see-through knit”) who had quit college to work. “Roy is brilliant,” she says. “I’m not.”

This has to take the cake as far as the most interesting how husband met wife story in The Real Housewives canon.