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ANNUS HORRIBILIS: June 10 was F. Lee Bailey’s 67th birthday, but the barrel-chested barrister still needs some cheer after a humbling 12 months. Last September, his wife died. In October, the Florida Bar moved to take away his law license for misconduct and misappropriation, alleging that he had inappropriately pocketed $3.5 million in stock belonging to a client. In another case, in January, a federal magistrate judge slammed his testimony as “evasive, inconsistent [and] strident” and recommended that he be held in contempt for extracting from the Cayman Islands millions that a different client had stowed there for him. His 90-year-old mother died two weeks later. A columnist even vilified him for fumbling the Patty Hearst case 25 years ago. Then, in May, his disbarment hearing began, forcing him to relive his row with former colleague Robert Shapiro. After he revealed on the witness stand that he had let O.J. Simpson sit for a polygraph test, Jay Leno gibed to the nation that he’d rather see Bailey take a breathalyzer test. At least the West Palm Beach, Fla., lawyer has resumed his practice. He was heading to court for a client and not available to talk, but his assistant says that for his birthday, he will return to Boston, his original base for defending the famous, back before he had to defend himself. After that, he can look forward to Shapiro’s deposition on June 12; rulings on whether he gets disbarred and whether he must go to federal prison for contempt; and, in late summer, the opening of a civil case he has filed against the government. Maybe by then he’ll end up entirely vindicated. If not, there’s always Larry King and Geraldo. FLIPPED LID? Arnold Levine, of Tampa, Fla., is an aggressive enough lawyer that he once made a woman faint during a cross-examination. But his upstairs neighbor, Jonathan Alpert, would also seem to be pretty intimidating. Levine says that during a court-ordered mediation on June 3, Alpert interrupted Levine’s opening statement by screaming and hurling a 20-ounce cup of joe in his face. On June 5, the wet guy sued the dry guy for humiliating him in front of his clients, the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football club. Alpert represents season-ticket holders who claim that the club assigned them cruddy seats in the Bucs’ new stadium. Even before the fateful session, both sides were red in the face: The club had countersued the fans for defamation, seeking $1 million in damages. Alpert says that Levine’s lawsuit, and an accompanying motion for a contempt finding, are just delaying tactics. He asserts that the rules of mediation oblige him not to discuss whether java was on the table, and that Levine’s complaint is out of bounds: “You see people doing all kinds of things at mediations, and if [the lawsuit] is appropriate, no mediation is going to be confidential and no mediation is ever going to be successful.” The foes see the judge on June 9, after press time. No word on whether coffee will be served. FULL CIRCLE: Frederick Ford, 48, was a federal probation officer for 16 years before opening a law practice in 1991. More recently, however, he offered a robber $11,000 to kill two former clients, fearing that the clients would implicate him in a plot to kidnap a wealthy marijuana dealer. At his sentencing, the judge received a request for mercy from Ford’s daughter, who acknowledged that her father was a criminal. “I always used to debate with him about his job as a criminal defense attorney. I didn’t always [like] that he represented the ‘scum of society.’ He would try to explain to me that not everyone is guilty, but until now I never believed it,” she wrote. He was sentenced to eight years behind bars.

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