When Lynn Silvertooth started lawyering in 1949, there were just two judges and fewer than 40 attorneys in all of Sarasota County. From his appointment as a circuit court judge in 1964 until his retirement in 1989, he had a high-profile career on the bench. Early on, he presided over an international headline-making murder trial, as a young attorney named F. Lee Bailey defended Sarasota physician Carl Coppolino, who was accused of poisoning his wife. Gov. Reuben Askew sent him to Miami in 1971 to try the sensational "Miami Market Street Connection" case, involving payoffs to the mayor, vice mayor and two circuit court judges from a reputed member of the mob.
A devoted family man and fisherman, the lifelong Sarasota resident (at age three he played a Spaniard in the Sara de Soto pageant) this summer will see the county judicial center named after him. With a million-watt smile, a well-chewed cigar stub ever planted in his cheek and a Southern drawl, Silvertooth concedes, "It's a wonderful honor for an old man."