Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Manatee County bids farewell to noted defense attorney Mark Lipinski

The mood started off somber within the Manatee County Historic Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon as hundreds gathered to bid farewell to a Manatee County legal legend.
Mark Lipinski, 65, died in his home on the morning of July 14, of natural causes. Brown & Sons Funeral Homes handled the arrangements and according to owner Gene Brown, more than 200 people attended a memorial service Monday just prior to Lipinski being laid to rest later that evening.
Because of Lipinski’s popularity, Brown said, it only made sense to plan a second memorial service on Tuesday, this one taking place in the second floor chambers of the Manatee County Historic Courthouse, a fitting place for the legal community to say goodbye.
More than 100 people came to Lipinski’s second memorial service. While the mood was somber as teary-eyed mourners watched a slide show of Lipinski’s life, it didn’t take long for smiles to appear as those who knew him, remembered the man.
Bradenton attorney Layon Robinson
Local attorney Layon Robinson first met Lipinski in the 1970s when Lipinski first began pursuing his law career, and 20 years before he went into private practice in Bradenton, after moving to Florida from his native Chicago.
“The first thing I picked up about him was his calmness,” said Robinson. “He turned into a very good lawyer and he was a very good person.”
Robinson said Lipinski’s friendship to those he knew spread well beyond the confines of a courtroom.
“When my wife was diagnosed with ALS, he would always stop me and ask me how she’s doing,” said Robinson. “He said he was very sorry and was always asking if there was anything he could do for me. That was important to me because I was going through a hard time, but that was the character he showed to me.”
Robinson saw Lipinski just two days before his sudden passing.
“He came by the office on that Tuesday to wish me well with a new partnership,” said Robinson. “I always liked Mark. He was a fair-minded person.”
Bradenton attorney Patrick Kane
Others described Lipinski as the politician who could work across party lines. While Lipinski focused on criminal defense, attorney Patrick Kane said he wouldn’t hesitate to help fellow defense attorneys, as well as prosecutors.
“He worked tirelessly for his clients,” said Kane. “He was a wealth of knowledge and willing to help anyone. You could call him or stop him on the street and he’d say, ‘Come on by my office and let’s work it out.’”
Kane met Lipinski in 2000 and one year later would be co-counsel with Lipinski in a criminal case.
“That one didn’t work out well because both our clients were convicted,” recalled Kane. “He was a unique individual. So many people are talking about how they are going to miss him and how different it will be without him. That was the type of person he was.”
Like many conversations within the old courtroom, these began somber but memories of Lipinski’s love for life quickly brought smiles back to mourning faces.
“And let’s not forget Mark’s legendary Christmas parties,” said Kane with a laugh.
Lipinski leaves behind his wife, Marilee.
Lipinski lost vision in one of his eyes in 1997. He was equally passionate about vision-related disabilities as he was about law. As such, his family asks that contributions in his name be made to Palmetto’s Southeastern Guide Dogs.

Small gestures helped define Mark Lipinski


Anderson: Bradenton attorney was more than long hours he worked

Small gestures helped define Mark Lipinski

Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2016 at 12:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 19, 2016 at 12:45 p.m.

Bradenton attorney Mark Lipinski died July 14. HERALD-TRIBUNE ARCHIVE / 2001 / THOMAS BENDER
Angel Colonneso and Mark Lipinski were standing outside the Manatee County Judicial Center one night when a storm approached. She didn't have an umbrella so he gave her his.

It's funny, but you spend your whole adult life working incessantly, nights and weekends, pouring your heart into your career, trying so hard to make something of your life that it actually contributes to your death, and in the end that's not what defines you at all.

Instead, it's a small gesture. One like giving someone an umbrella, or sending a sympathy card with a poem attached inside to someone whose dog has died, as Lipinski once did for Colonneso.

Lipinski's passing last week at 65 shocked many in the Bradenton community. He was a tremendous defense attorney, and it's true, people were quick to praise his intellect and tireless work habits, but his life was seen as more than all the cases he successfully handled, and perhaps that would have surprised him a bit to know.

Longtime friend and attorney Adam Tebrugge started a blog where people left their remembrances of Lipinski, and while Colonneso — Manatee County clerk of circuit court — mentioned the sympathy card and umbrella it was interesting to note that she wrote nothing about his work.

People wrote about Lipinski's love for Patti Smith and Warren Zevon songs, his fondness for Werner Herzog movies, the time as a frat boy he raced down the street on top of a piano.

A man thanked him for being there when his grandparents died, and another person remembered how the entire Manatee County Sheriff's Office — out of respect — helped him look for his elderly father, Stan, who went missing from a grocery store. Yet another remembered how he agonized over writing the obit for his father, who died in 2014, and how lonely he felt without him.

Tebrugge also remembers many things beyond work, like how much he read. He says his shelves were filled not only with law books, but sea-shanty-type stories. He loved listening to the cast recording of the musical "Hamilton," too.

Whenever Lipinski walked into Aces Lounge in Bradenton, which was only about five times a year, he was treated like a rock star. In fact, he had a VIP lifetime pass given to him by owner Rene Bennett for helping her when legal problems arose.

When Tebrugge was in a career transition stage in 2009, Lipinski let him use an office upstairs in the iconic building he owned in downtown Bradenton, and never asked for rent.

Tebrugge learned about Memphis Minnie, a famous blue guitarist, from Lipinski. He remembers how happy he was when Herzog, the famous German movie director, appeared in Sarasota and Lipinski was able to get a photo taken with him. It was one of the best days of his life.

Lipinski loved dogs, including his own, Arlo, who was always around the office. If Lipinski was talking to a client and Arlo wanted to go out, then the client would have to tell Lipinski the case details as he threw a ball to the dog in back of the office. One time, Tebrugge remembers, Arlo threw up on a client.

Tebrugge also recalls how Lipinski would often stop at a nursing home and play cards with his father, who had grown very ill.

“It was tough on Mark to watch his dad deteriorate," Tebrugge says. “We had a serious talk once and one of Mark's comments was, 'Adam, there are worse things than death.' While I'm very sad to lose my friend I also reflect upon that.

“I know Mark wouldn't have wanted that for himself."

Attorney Scarlett Guy, who worked alongside Lipinski at his firm, wrote: “I just want him to tell me one more story. I just want to sit in his car listening to the Hamilton CD or talk about how on our next Vegas trip we were going river rafting.

“He was truly the biggest man in any room I have ever been in and that void is beyond filling."

On Tuesday night, at the old Manatee County Courthouse, a celebration of life was scheduled for the lawyer who worked harder than almost anybody in town.

Rain was in the forecast, and Mark Lipinski, most certainly, would have brought an umbrella.
Chris Anderson can be reached
Published in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, July 20, 2015

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


     Mark Lipinski, 65, of Bradenton, FL died on July 14, 2016 of natural causes. He was 65 years old and had a remarkable life. Mark was born in Chicago, IL to his Canadian father, Stanley W. Lipinski and to his mother, Donna M. Wilson, a North Dakota native. The family moved from Chicago to St. Paul, ultimately landing in Lakeland, FL for most of Mark's childhood. 
     Mark's father, Stanley was an Orthopedic Surgeon. Mark had a normal childhood playing little league baseball, practicing karate with his father and fishing mostly unsuccessfully. In high school, Mark became an enthusiastic (but never as good as he thought he was) golfer. He enjoyed water skiing with his high school and warmed the bench playing both baseball and football at Lakeland High School. Mark's teenage work ethic was established early, as he worked summers and holidays in college in the phosphate pits of Central Florida. Mark set the bar for all the Lipinski children and graduated high school with honors, an early indication of the successful powerhouse he would become. 
     In 1969, Mark made the decision to attend Washington and Lee University but transferred to the University of Florida after 1 year which led to his lifelong devotion to the Gators, later evidenced by his ever-present Orange Shirt and Gator hat. During his undergraduate years, Mark went through a rebellious stage – and became both an avid skydiver after taking a friend's dare (resulting in over 90 jumps) as well as scuba diver – working part time in an dive shop based in Gainesville, FL.
      It was interesting that through all of Mark's schooling, he only had one profession in mind. The Law. He knew from high school age that he wanted to pursue law as a profession. After graduating from University of Florida law school, he joined the Palm Beach County Public Defender's Office for a 2 year sojourn, he move to Sarasota and worked for the State Attorney's Office. After leaving the State Attorney's Office he had short stints with Henry Trawick and Larry Byrd. Mark then migrated to Palmetto and joined Jerome Pratt's firm as a young defense litigator. 
     In 1990, Mark opened his own practice focusing on criminal defense and worked tirelessly in the pursuit of improving his craft. Most weekends his car could be found parked in back of his office to continue working with clients as he was always committed to the unending quest for answers questions of law. Many in the community considered him a walking encyclopedia of law, known for his ability to recite case law off the cuff. Mark reveled in the opportunity to push his colleagues and associates to bring their very best to each legal argument, because he believed that in doing so – it raised the overall quality of our legal system. 
     Mark had only three loves in his life: His wife Marilee, Arlo and The Law. Mark was a man of honor and honest to a fault. He was an incredibly loyal friend and a fearsome opponent in court. Although Mark lost his sight in one eye in 1997, it did not slow down his enthusiasm nor his work pace. Mark was generous – frequently allowing young attorney's beginning their practices to use office space upstairs in his building rent free and he was renowned throughout the Bradenton and Sarasota counties for his story telling abilities. Mark Lipinski was a man of the millennium so unique and complex that he will never be replicated. 
     Mark is survived by his wife, Marilee Lipinski, step-daughter, Dorothy Putman, her husband, Blake and his grandchild, Gracie Putman. Services for Mark Lipinski will be held on Tuesday July 19, 2016 at the Manatee County Historical Courthouse in the historical courtroom on the second floor, from 4 PM-6 PM, with a Celebration of Life beginning at 6 PM. Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory 43rd Street Chapel is in charge of arrangements. Given Mark's own experiences with loss of sight, he would be grateful if any contributions you might consider making would be directed to the: Southeastern Guide Dogs, 4210 77th St. East, Palmetto, FL 34221 in order to help those with sight disabilities Condolences may be made to

Published in Herald Tribune on July 19, 2016

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Donations in Memory of Mark

A message from Charlie Ann Syprett: Marilee Lipinski has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Memory Of Mark to SOUTHEAST GUIDE DOGS at 4210 77th Street E., Palmetto, Florida 34221. It is our hope that we can collect enough money to actually name a dog in Mark's memory. She asked that the dog be named MARLO - a tribute to both Mark and his beloved dog, ARLO. I know Mark would have really liked this. Please share this message. Thanks.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Durand Adams

Services for Mark

From Scarlett Guy:

We have finalized the viewing and service information for Mark. Thank you for all the wonderful thoughts and messages.
In Memory of Mark Lipinski:
A viewing will be held on Monday, July 18, 2016 from 4pm –7pm at Brown and Sons Funeral Home located at 604 43rd Street West, Bradenton, FL 34205.
On Tuesday, July 19, 2016 a viewing will be held at the Historical Courtroom in the Historical Courthouse located at 1115 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton, FL 34205 from 4pm – 6pm with a Celebration of Mr. Lipinski's Life beginning at 6 p.m.

Jimmy Brown

Add caption

"A Lawyer's Lawyer"

Mark Lipinski will be missed.

Mark Lipinski was a lawyer's lawyer — committed equally to the practice of law and to his clients. He was dogged in their defense, yet a gentleman in his demeanor.

Lipinski was frumpy in appearance, yet he maintained a sense of dignity. He was mentored by some of our region's legal legends — Henry Trawick, Larry Byrd and Jerome Pratt — and had become one of the deans of the defense bar in Manatee County.

Forty years after graduating from the University of Florida law school, Lipinski, 65, was found dead Thursday at his home in Bradenton.

His old-school approach to his profession, his openness and his wit will be missed.

   An Editorial from the Sarasota Herald Tribune, July 15 2016

Friday, July 15, 2016

Beth Burger

      I said goodbye to Mark Lipinski more than five years ago. Yesterday I learned it was our last goodbye. I never made it back to visit as I had always intended to. 
     As I was preparing to move away, there had been a series of goodbyes. I had accepted a job at the Chattanooga Times Free Press and would be leaving Bradenton. Soon. Yet, it was hard. My sources were far more than sources to me. They became my friends, my family. Mark had jokingly told me, “This has become the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar farewell tour. It’s one event after another.”
He took me out for a scotch to celebrate the new job. I had to drop by to say our final goodbye at 518 12th Street West. It was fitting. It’s where I spent many hours, mostly on weekends, tucked away inside the law office. 
     As a crime reporter, if I needed to know something about Florida law, Mark knew the answer. If he didn’t, it was scribbled down on pages in a series of black binders. Those binders were his personal law library accumulated from hard fought cases and years of practice. Sometimes wearing two pairs of glasses, I watched as he pored over the pages. It was Mark who represented many clients in high profile criminal cases. He had the inside track about what was going on, and more importantly, what could happen next. 
     I came to Mark for stories. I needed stories to fill the pages of the Bradenton Herald, which the locals dubbed as the mullet wrapper. I was one of many reporters who Mark worked with over the years. But outside of my job at the paper, I discovered a dear friend, who I spent hours with listening to music and watching Werner Herzog movies. 
     He introduced me to Patti Smith’s music. “This is the greatest line in the history of rock and roll that you’re about to hear,” he once told me. With the volume cranked up nearly as loud as it would go, the album Horses began to play with the first track, “Gloria.” The music had to be loud. I had to experience this. He cranked the volume up the rest of the way.“Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine,” Smith’s voice began only growing in intensity as the song played on and reached the main chorus. Her voice was now strained and yelling.“I bet you never heard a version of ‘Gloria’ like that,” he said. 
He was right. Van Morrison was now lame. 
     We had debates. Songs you want played at your funeral. Go. I remember saying I wanted “Hey Jude” played at my funeral. I want a black gospel singer to perform it and bring the house down. He pushed back and said it was overplayed and asked was that really a song I wanted on my list. Was it? I had doubts. I said all Beatles songs are overplayed. Coming back full circle, I think he chose a Beatles song for his list too. I’m kicking myself for not jotting our lists down.
     Then there were the stories that never made the paper. Those were Mark’s stories. They were stories of his youth. He would talk about his favorite cases he tried and how at least one ended in a fistfight outside the courthouse. I heard about how as a frat boy he raced down the street riding on a piano. He was an animated storyteller.
     The talks would often continue into the back alley. Arlo, a yellow Labrador retriever and loyal office dog, would play fetch. The tennis ball always stopped just shy of Sixth Avenue West where cars darted by. I always worried it would keep going into oncoming traffic. Mark never seemed fazed. He knew it would roll to a stop and Arlo would scoop it up. As we watched Arlo run, he paused and turned to me and said he understood that I wanted to move on. People do that. He said Bradenton was the perfect place though. It was rich in interesting characters and fascinating criminal cases. It was small enough to know the major players. With his arms outstretched, he slowly turned making a full circle, “What more could you possibly want?” Indeed.
     I have yet to meet an attorney like Mark. I suspect I never will. I was lucky to call him my friend. I’ve shed a lot of tears. I’ve listened to Patti Smith, Bob Dylan and Warren Zevon. I’ve listened to songs he loved like “Lawyers, Guns and Money” over and over. I’m happy he did what he loved up until his death. There were always cases waiting. He worked seven days a week on 12th Street. He used to tell me, “I’m not very hard to find. I’m always here.”

Scarlett Guy

     My life today has been changed by someone who I was lucky to have met and have shared the past 11 years with. He was not just some regular person.. Not someone that talked, walked, or pretended to be anyone else.. He was Mark Lipinski.. Or sometimes after a big trial he would say he was King Kong..and I believed him..He was witty and could quote law or a movie by Werner Herzog, or some cool lyric from a Clapton song, he loved people-all types of people-even ones I couldn't understand why he liked- he didn't judge, was faithful to his wife, loyal to his friends, and always the guy you went to when you needed real answers, right answers, and quick answers, because he had them all.

     I may cry a river before I am able to get a hold of the sadness I feel for never having the opportunity to hear his voice again, see him or have him say kid can I tell you a story or kid do you want to go for a Starbucks run with the dogs...I just want him to tell me one more story.. I want him to quote the lyrics from the 'send lawyers, guns, and money' song that he loved.. I want to sit in his car listening to the Hamilton CD or talk about how on our next Vegas trip we were going to go river rafting... Most of all I just want him to fill up his favorite big cup of coffee, sit down next to me and say kid let's talk strategy.. He was a man of strategy..a man with theories and themes that only come around once in a lifetime.. He was truly the biggest man in any room that I have ever been in and I am afraid that void is beyond filling.. I know that God is feeling very lucky to have him back..I just can't believe he is gone.. God Speed to you Mark Lipinski..We love you so...

Jennifer Fury

     There was something surreal all day today, as we all wandered around the courthouse blinking at each other. Incredulous. And a little lost for words. Yes, lawyers, trial lawyers, bereft of language. " I can't believe it" " I just spoke to him yesterday ". Heads shaking in disbelief. For all of what has been said of the lawyer, Mark Lipinski, none of it seems adequate to capture him. He was a lawyer's lawyer, no doubt. But he was more than that. So much more. As gargantuan as the hole that he will leave in the courthouse is going to be ( and the width and depth of that chasm, we haven't even begun to realize) it doesn't fully express what the man was. So much has been said of him that I could reiterate, but you know, it's my turn. Mark was devilish. He had a wicked sense of humor. Mark would come to me and say " I need to ask you a favor" . I'd say yes. And find out later what I'd signed myself up for. Mark talked me into some shit y'all. But he had good scotch. And good music. And I was game. Because he asked.
      We all have Mark Lipinski stories. All of us. My heart breaks at the thought that there will be no new stories to tell. Mark was one of those guys around whom the making of stories just seemed to flourish. He was ripe for it. All larger than life and full of all the accoutrement of "the tale". That dramatic pause, that grin, the draw of breath, the signature phrase.. .. Man! I'm missing you already!

Dana Moss

     The practice of law wasn't a job for Mark Lipinski; rather, it was a way for Mark to express who he was.  It is well known that Mark worked tirelessly on his caseload and devoted his life to serving others.  There was no such thing as a day-off in Mark’s world.  The entire time I knew Mark, he worked seven days a week.  He was an extraordinary attorney and devoted son. The only time I’ve ever seen Mark put work on hold was on Sunday afternoons, when he went to have lunch with his dad at the nursing home.  If a young attorney was lucky enough to receive the invitation from Mark to, “stop by the office this weekend and we can chat,” he or she was a fool not to go.  For an afternoon with Mark was far more valuable in developing an attorney’s skills than any amount of time spent in the law school classroom.  Mark was a brilliant teacher; he was deliberate and attentive in everything he did.  He constantly reminded me of the importance of preserving the record for appeal.  His mind was like a machine.  He digested legal materials in an effortless manner and captivated audiences with his eloquent deliveries.  Mark could simultaneously begin writing the appeal in his head, as the courtroom clerk finished reading the guilty verdict.  I know I will spend the rest of my career hoping to be like him one day.
     Mark lost his father in October 2014.  A few weeks after Mark buried his dad, we were on our way to Port Manatee to visit a client at the jail.  Mark looked over at me and said, “you know, kiddo, for the first time in my life I feel like an orphan.” Mark, I can honestly say I now know how you felt, because I feel like an orphan with the passing of my dear friend and mentor.  I remember how Mark agonized over writing his father’s obituary.  He wanted desperately to find the right words to honor the man who meant so much to him.  I never thought less than two years later, I would be in the same predicament.  Nothing I write could do Mark justice.  I can only say that I am a better person for having known him.  His passing is a tremendous loss to the legal community and all who knew him. Rest in peace, Mark Lipinski.

Dan took this picture of the items on Mark's table before a trial:

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Leland Taylor

     Thank you Mark for everything - for being a mentor, for making a place for my family when we moved home four years ago, for having a big heart, for being there when my grandparents died, for so many things that I cannot list. I don't have the words or a way to truly express our gratitude, to say thank you, I just can't find the words, but I know one thing - you are loved and will be missed!!!!

Bradenton Herald

Mark Lipinski, a private defense attorney known as a pillar of the community in Bradenton, was found dead in his home Thursday morning. He was 65.
News of Lipinski’s death spread quickly Thursday morning in the Manatee County courthouse. Assistant State Attorney Brian Chambers approached the bench to share the news with Circuit Judge Susan Maulucci.
“He was a pillar of the community,” Chambers said.
At 8:35 a.m., Manatee sheriff’s deputies had been called to Lipinski’s home in Northwest Bradenton after a co-worker had gone to check on him and found him dead in his home. Lipinski, who was due in court at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, was usually in much earlier.
Deputies confirmed Lipinski’s death and a standard death investigation is underway, although there were no suspicious circumstances found.
He shared the home with his wife, Marilee Lipinski, and their dogs.
Lipinski, originally from Chicago, opened his private practice in Bradenton in 1990 and has since defended a wide range of cases.
Before opening his own practice, Lipinski had shared a practice with Chris Pratt in Palmetto for eight years.
And for at least 30 years, they have been best friends, Pratt said Thursday afternoon.
“What I am happiest about is before I went home yesterday, I stopped by Mark’s office and spent 45 minutes with him, roaring with laughter,” Pratt said.
Those 45 minutes were shared telling both old and new stories. Pratt said he felt blessed to have that last memory with his friend.
One of Pratt’s favorite stories about Lipinski, recalled by others as well, was from one of the first criminal cases in which Pratt sat second chair to Lipinski in court in the 1980s.
“I was really just sitting in the chair holding Mark’s briefcase,” Pratt laughed.
Mark was questioning a snitch on the witness stand, and the snitch was on the verge of tears, Pratt recalled.
“Don’t cry Mr. ... it’s going to get worse,” Pratt remembered Lipinski saying to the witness, adding, “And it did.”
And that was because Lipinski, he said, knew the art in the practice of law.
“When Mark Lipinski had his A game going, it was as good as it gets,” Pratt said. “There’s lots of technicians that know how to do it, but Mark Lipinski did it well.”
But as good as an attorney as many proclaimed him to be, for Pratt he was an even better friend. When Pratt was still in law school, Lipinski – who worked for Pratt’s father’s firm – was always there for him.
“Mark is the kind of friend that if you need help, you don’t need to ask, instead he will come to you and say, ‘What can I do to help,’” Pratt said.

‘Larger than life’

Scarlett Guy, who joined Lipinski’s firm in 2009, spoke of the privilege she and others felt to have worked with an amazing, brilliant man.
“He was larger than life,” Guy said.
Guy remembers the first time she saw Lipinski years ago.
Lipinski had walked into the courtroom and, despite the presence of about 30 other defense attorneys, it was as if the seas parted for him.
“He would always tell these amazing stories that everyone wanted to hear,” she said.
Guy said many who went up against him in court took it as an opportunity to learn.
“It was neat to see all the seasoned officers who would say, ‘You know what, Mark Lipinski made me a better cop,’” she said.
Lipinski was her 3-year-old son’s godfather and her daughters adored them, she said. Just recently he had taken her children fishing, determined that his godson catch his first fish. Instead of one, he caught two on the same hook, Guy said, laughing.
Lipinski helped many other defense attorneys who were just getting their private practice started over the years. Often there would be two or three vacant offices in the second floor of their office building, Guy said, and Lipinski would let attorneys starting out stay there rent-free.

Mentor to many

Defense attorney Brett McIntosh was at a loss for words when he first heard Thursday morning about the death of the man he considered his mentor. Later on, he shared the first time the two had met when he entered the business about 22 years ago.
“When I started and I was introduced to Mark, he made it clear that he had an open-door policy. If I had questions, and needed anything, he made me understand that we were like brothers,” McIntosh said. “He was a mentor and I think it was like that for many people.”
Lipinski was one of the hardest-working men he’s ever known, McIntosh said. He was famous in town for his car being parked outside his downtown office at 518 12 St. W. on Saturdays and Sundays.
“Whether he was stopping to say hello while he was out walking his dog or stopping for a chat, it was always a good conversation,” McIntosh said. “He is going to be truly missed. He is an icon in the legal community in Bradenton.”
State Attorney Ed Brodsky, like others, recalled seeing Lipinski working on weekends whenever he, too, would come into his office.
“He was a zealous advocate who acted tirelessly on behalf of his clients,” Brodsky said. “He was considered to be one of the most prominent criminal defense attorneys in this community.”
The prosecutor added, “He will be dearly missed by all of us.”

Quite a party

But it was his fond memories of the Christmas party that Lipinski used to throw with long-time friend Vincent M. Lucente that Brodsky said showed him how big a heart the defense attorney had.
“In the legal community, it was the party of the year,” Brodsky said.
And all in the legal community were welcome at Lipinski’s party, eventually growing so large it had to be held at the Bradenton City Auditorium.
Lucente was very somber when he answered the phone at his court reporting service Vincent M. Lucente & Associates, but laughed at the mention of the famed Christmas party.
“They still ask if I am going to have a Christmas party and the last one was 10 years ago,” Lucente said.
The two men had shared a friendship for almost four decades.
“Anything I needed, Mark was there,” Lucente said. “He was a good friend and he's going to be missed. He was one of the best criminal attorneys around.”
He recalled how his friend would often play with his dog, Arlo, in the alley behind his office, morning or night.
“I guess that was his escape,” Lucente said. “I don’t think he did much else. I would come in early and his car was already here. I would leave late and his car would still be here.
“There won't be anyone like him. He was a legend.”
Lucente referred to Lipinski as a “walking law dictionary” who didn't need to look up anything, but instead could recite laws off the cuff.
“Criminal law is a very tough business, and Mark made a little easier,” Lucente said.

He’ll be missed

In an email to the Bradenton Herald, Circuit Judge Gilbert A. Smith Jr. expressed how Lipinski’s presence will be missed in the courthouse.
“I have known him a long time and admired him for his advocacy skills. Mark was passionate in representing his clients and actually performed a lot of pro bono work in the community,” Smith wrote. “My dad was a circuit judge from 1971 to 1991 and Mark was always one of his favorite lawyers. I have been a circuit judge since 2009 and feel the same way about Mark.”
Some took to social media when they heard news.
Adam Tebrugge, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, tweeted out “Word is spreading that Bradenton's preeminent criminal defense attorney has passed away. I will very much miss my friend.”
In another tweet, Tebrugge shared a poem that he wrote about a case he and Lipinski had worked on together.
Tebrugge’s poem details a hearing for a client that went late into the night — well after the air conditioning shut down at 7 p.m. When the hearing concluded at 11 p.m., their client was hauled to jail in tears, the poem but goes on. But Lipinski was still arguing for his client.
“We searched the office high and low but could not find a drink. As the clock struck midnight we were tired, dry and hungry,” Tebrugge wrote. “But as I left the office, I could hear a voice exclaim, ‘We will fight another day,’ said lawyer Mark Lipinski.”
A public service will be held for Lipinski, but details have not yet been set.
Lipinski’s cases will continue to be handled by his office and Guy.

Sampling of Lipinski’s cases

▪  On July 31, 2008, first-degree murder suspect Cody Rogers was granted a $500,000 bond after Lipinski argued that Rogers’ previous bond should be in force. Rogers had been arrested on a principal to murder charge and released on a $500,000 bond, but was rearrested after being indicted on first-degree murder. Presented with the case, the judge agreed with Lipinski that Rogers was entitled to bond because he had posted it on the lesser charge.
▪  In February 2004, Lipinski went the lengths of writing a a guest column for the Bradenton Herald in defense of then-Circuit Judge Harry Rapkin, asking the community not to make the judge a scapegoat for his handling of a violation of probation in which the defendant, Joseph P. Smith, was later charged with killing someone.
"Rather than being known as a lenient sentencer, as the media suggests, Judge Rapkin certainly has no problem in sentencing defendants to the maximum amount of prison required under the law," Lipinski wrote. "He does insist that all parties to a criminal action — the prosecutors, police officers, and defense attorneys — follow the law. This is precisely what we pay judges in Florida to do."
▪ On May 18, 2007, Moody Blues drummer Graeme Edge was acquitted of DUI after the defense put on by Lipinski and Guy. Lipinski had argued Edge could not have performed the sobriety tests successfully regardless of what state he had been in.
"He was a 65-year-old man with a neurological neck injury that makes it impossible for him to perform those tasks," said Lipinski, according to Bradenton Herald archives. He also argued that the Breathalyzer that had been used failed because it was 16 years old.
Jessica De Leon: 941-745-7049@JDeLeon1012

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Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bradenton attorney Mark Lipinski dies at 65

He practiced in the city for more than two decades

Published: Thursday, July 14, 2016 at 1:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 14, 2016 at 1:43 p.m.

Bradenton attorney Mark Lipinski died July 14. HERALD-TRIBUNE ARCHIVE / 2001 / THOMAS BENDER
BRADENTON — Everyone went to Mark Lipinski’s office, it seemed. It was like a lounge for lawyers. Defense attorneys, prosecutors, sometimes even judges popped in. They would ask the most complicated legal questions and he always had the answers, but sometimes they came just to hear his rich, bellowing laugh.
They often sat around the long table in his conference room. It had impeccable woodworking, done as payment by a bank robber he once represented. A dog left to him by another client was often at his side. He kept volumes of black books, full of handwritten case law, and no one remembers seeing anything quite like that before.
But Thursday was different at Lipinski’s office. Those who stopped by were informed of his death.
Lipinski, one of the most recognizable private defense attorneys in the area, was found dead in his Bradenton home Thursday morning and it was a shocking blow to the community. The cause of his death was not known. He was 65.
“I don’t know where we are going to go now," Sarasota attorney Derek Byrd said. “I don’t know who we’re going to ask questions to. He was that guy and he will be missed."
Lipinski was born in Chicago, graduated from the University of Florida law school, came to the area and then worked with such distinguished local attorneys as Henry Trawick, Jerome Pratt and Larry Byrd, Derek Byrd's father, who gave Lipinski his first job.
Derek Byrd’s first job, meanwhile, was working for Lipinski, who opened his own practice in Manatee County in 1990. Byrd said he was so smart, he nearly aced the bar exam.
“Mark was widely considered one of the great legal minds in our business," Byrd said. “He was like a walking law library."
Private investigator Leo Martinez sat at the conference table in Lipinski’s office Wednesday afternoon and said Lipinski looked fine. He complained of no illnesses as they discussed a case.
Martinez rented office space from Lipinski in the downtown Bradenton building he owned, and when he pulled into work Thursday morning, he learned of Lipinski’s passing. A former FBI agent, Martinez had known Lipinski for 18 years. He remained in his car for quite a while before exiting, shocked by the news.
“He was a gentleman, a great guy," Martinez said. “Very cerebral, thoughtful and intelligent."
Martinez was having lunch last week at Cracker Barrel with Colonel Rick Wells of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office when Lipinski’s name came up. Wells, who will become sheriff on Jan. 3, has known Lipinski since the 1980s.
“He made us better investigators, that’s the bottom line," Wells said. “He helped prepare you to make sure your investigation was the best it could be. If it wasn’t, he was going to find issues and you were going to lose."
Martinez says it was not uncommon for Lipinski to work seven days a week, up to 15 hours a day, and many people were concerned about his health.
Lipinski lost sight in his right eye several years ago and had it removed, but he never slowed down.
“Mark was dedicated to his craft," said assistant state attorney Dawn Buff, who last saw Lipinski Tuesday. “He spent extensive time in his office and insufficient time for himself. I always told him he needed to slow down, enjoy life."
Derek Byrd expressed the same concern to Lipinski.
“The guy loved being a lawyer more than anyone I know," Byrd said. “In that vein I have a lot of respect for him. On the other hand, as a friend, I wish he had enjoyed the fruits of his labor more."
Services for Lipinski had not yet been set as of Thursday evening.