Arnold D. Levine, longtime resident of Tampa and prominent criminal and civil litigator, died Saturday, May 30th, at home, surrounded by loved ones. He was 88. Son of the late Morris and Minnie Levine, Arnold was born December 12, 1931, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He attended Samuel J. Tilden High School and then New York University, graduating with honors in Business. After serving in the Army, waiting tables in the Catskills, and working in his mother’s restaurant, he attended the University of Miami Law School where he was a member of the Miami Law Review and graduated Cum Laude in 1960. He was admitted to the Florida Bar that same year. After a few years of private practice, he was appointed in 1962 by then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy as an Assistant United States Attorney, a position he held for three years. Upon leaving the U. S. Attorney's office, he started his own firm. Arnie's dedication and wit quickly made for a thriving practice. In 1966, he was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. He carried an AV rating with Martindale & Hubbell and was a member of the United States District Court for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida, a member in good standing of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits, and a lecturer for The Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education in 1965 and 1993. As a member of the American Bar Association, Arnold also served as a committee member of its Criminal Law division. Arnold enjoyed a reputation as a fearsome advocate and persuasive orator until his recent retirement. His practice included multimillion-dollar marital dissolutions and complex civil litigation representing clients including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the former owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and MLB pitcher Denny McLain, in addition to well-known businesses such as the Orthodontic Centers of America, Inc., DeBartolo Development, and DeBartolo Holdings, LLC. In addition, he provided pro bono representation to many high-profile defendants. Early in his career, he was appointed to represent Kerry Thornley, a freelance reporter who had been charged with perjury during a Grand Jury investigation in New Orleans of Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In the Tampa Bay area, his pro bono work included defending Jose Manuel Sosa, charged with killing his parents, and Billy Ray Babson, charged with killing a City of Tampa Police Officer. In 1994, he took on the pro bono case of Mary Stiles, who had been charged with killing her husband (“Lobster Boy”), using “battered wife syndrome” as a defense in a murder-for-hire case for the first time in the state. One of his proudest moments was his appointment by then U. S. Attorney E. J. Salcines as a special prosecutor of the individuals responsible for the murder of Tampa teenager Jonathan Kushner. In 2010, the Florida Bar recognized Arnie for his 50 years of legal service. Throughout the years of his long legal practice, he acted as a mentor to numerous lawyers in the Tampa Bay area, many of whom went on to have prestigious careers as litigators and judges. Arnie had a passion for collecting and promoting visual art. He was a patron of the Tampa Museum of Art and a longtime subscriber to Graphicstudio at the University of South Florida. In 1975, along with USF Professors of Art Alan Eaker and Donald Saff, he founded Pyramid Arts Ltd., an art publishing venture that published the works of well-known artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Jim Dine, Philip Pearlstein, and Theo Wujcik. A fierce litigator in the courtroom, Arnie was a sweetheart at home. The devotion and care with which he tended his garden was surpassed only by the love he gave to his family. Arnie's most cherished flower was his wife Gail, to whom he brought coffee in bed almost every morning of their 62 years of marriage. A talented tennis player and avid basketball fan, Arnold enjoyed, most of all, ballroom dancing with Gail. He had an endearing habit of leading Gail onto the dance floor (even when there wasn’t a dance floor) whenever and wherever music was playing. Gail was the love of his life. Arnie was enormously proud of the home he and Gail built on Tampa Bay, where they graciously hosted numerous memorable parties and celebrations. His passionate storytelling and spontaneous singing delighted his grandchildren endlessly. In addition to Gail, survivors include his sister, Harriet Wolfson, his son Jeffrey and his wife Louisa, his daughters Beth Sullivan, Jill Crosby and her husband Christopher, and Suzanne aka “Sam” Katz, and nine grandchildren – James, Henry, Arnold, Lucy, Michael Henry, Alexander, Sydney, Garret, and Eli.
A private graveside service was held Friday, June 5, and will be followed with a celebration of life at a date to be announced. Donations in his memory may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center at SPLC.org, and
Seasons Hospice at https://www.seasonsfoundation.org/donate-today/
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