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Memories of late mob attorney Rick Halprin served up during service at Manny’s Deli

Family friends gathered Thursday Manny's Deli for memorial for Rick Halprwho died Tuesday his Hyde Park home. The famed criminal

Family and friends gathered Thursday at Manny's Deli for a memorial for Rick Halprin, who died Tuesday at his Hyde Park home. The famed criminal defense attorney's most famous client was Joseph "Joey The Clown" Lombardo, but Halprin's storied career began in the 70s. His daughter Eden Halprin, center, greeted mourners and is in the picture that is framed next to the flowers. | Tina Sfondeles~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 8, 2013 6:47AM

With the smell of corned beef wafting in the air, family and friends of Rick Halprin gathered at Manny’s Deli on Thursday to memorialize the power criminal defense attorney.

“I’ve never been to a service here,” attorney Thomas A. Durkin told a packed cafeteria room, full of notables ranging from Gary Shapiro, acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, to Halprin’s closest friends in the criminal defense community.

It was a reunion of sorts. His sister Judith Halprin said Manny’s was a natural choice: “Everyone used to come here from court.”

Halprin, 73, committed suicide on Tuesday.

“This is not the kind of closing argument I wanted to make,” Judith Halprin, also an attorney said. “This is not about how he died. This is about how he lived.”

There were laughs among the tears. He was “wildly inappropriate,” his daughter Eden said. Friends said they had to tell him to use his inside voice frequently and that he could down two martinis like no one they’d ever seen. He bought his best friend, attorney Bill Murphy, a suit from Brooks Brothers “just so I could have a pin-striped suit,” he said.

“He really loved you all so much,” Halprin’s daughter said to her father’s law community. “You meant a great deal to him, and frankly, he would have been really happy you guys showed up.”

Judith Halprin said her brother became consumed with pain from a back injury caused by a Vietnam rocket attack. He tried everything to no avail, including four back surgeries and steel rods, and was forced to wear a body cast for a year.

“I think most crushing of all to him was he could no longer practice law. He could not be in a court for any length of time, to stand there through the pain to try a case and focus, which is what he did so well for so many years,” Judith Halprin said. “And when he could not do that anymore . . . there was no reason for him to be.”

Durkin, another close friend, said it’s a disservice to call Rick Halprin a mob attorney, despite one of his most famous clients, Joseph “Joey The Clown” Lombardo.

“He was far more than a mob lawyer. There are mob lawyers, and he wasn’t one of them,” Durkin said. “He was a lawyer’s lawyer. He was as good as it can get. He was as good on the theory of defense as any I’ve ever seen.”

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