Alan B. Lipson, 75, Baltimore District Court judge, sailor

December 01, 2005|By FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN | FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN,SUN REPORTER

Alan B. Lipson, a retired Baltimore District Court judge and avid sailor, died Tuesday from complications of a stroke at the Pickersgill Retirement Community in Towson. The former Guilford resident was 75.

He was born in Providence, R.I., and moved with his family to Manchester, N.H., in 1939. While living there, he developed lifelong interests in skiing, sailing and tennis.

After earning a bachelor's degree in economics in 1952 from the University of New Hampshire, he served in the Air Force for two years, and remained in the reserve, attaining the rank of captain. He retired in 1967.

He earned his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1962, and after passing the state bar examination that year, began practicing law. He was an assistant state's attorney from 1965 to 1967, when he was named an assistant U.S. attorney.

After almost five years as a prosecutor, he joined the Baltimore law firm of Sherbow, Shea & Doyle in 1970, and was later named a partner.

He was named assistant attorney general of Maryland and counsel to the state Insurance Commission in 1979. He held that post when he was appointed to the District Court by Gov. Harry R. Hughes in 1981.

"He was a good judge - very practical and very fair-minded. It is something we look and hope for in our judges," said recently retired Maryland Chief District Judge Martha F. Rasin. "He was a great guy and a mentor who was respected by his fellow judges."

Judge Lipson said in a 1983 interview with the Sun Magazine that he was obsessed with trying to be right when it came to his cases.

"You're not a computer," he said. "You're dealing with human beings. If I can't make a judgment on a sentence right there on the bench, I'll ask for a pre-sentence investigation to get a better feel for a kid. Some pre-sentence reports are beautiful. They help a great deal."

"Judge Lipson was a judge's judge and a very pleasant and a gentle soul. He was very thoughtful and took seriously his role as a judge," Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell said yesterday. "He was down-to-earth and not the least bit standoffish."

Retired District Judge Joseph A. Ciotola described him as "studious" and gifted with "good judicial temperament."

"He always kept the interest of the public before him. He was polite, understood the law, and enforced the law according to rules and the evidence. Lawyers always enjoyed appearing before him," he said. "And the public knew he dispersed equal justice to all in a like manner."

After Judge Lipson retired in 1995, he continued hearing cases.

"He'd sit where we asked him to sit and he traveled all over the state hearing cases," Judge Rasin said.

A stroke in 1998 brought his career to a close, family members said.

For years, Judge Lipson and his wife of 51 years, the former Barbara Ballard, enjoyed spending time at River Run, a community near Ocean City where they both liked to play golf.

He also liked sailing the bay with his wife aboard the Irish Coffee, his 27-foot Catalina.

Judge Lipson was a member of the American Bar Association, the Barrister's Club and the River Run Golf Club.

"Another of his hobbies was reading law books," Mrs. Lipson said.

Judge Lipson was a member of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.

Also surviving are a son, Bruce S. Lipson of Reston, Va.; a daughter, Amy Lipson Silver of Reisterstown; a sister, Brenda Kriegel of Long Island, N.Y.; and six grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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