Longtime New Times readers are likely familiar with the name Ryan Lipner. The Broward man's antics have regularly come up in the paper over the past decade, covering a weird public career that includes lawsuits against his parents, an obsession with the Hallmark greeting card company, quixotic campaigns for Florida governor, and recent legal trouble.
Lipner is back in a Broward courtroom today, as a judge tries to determine what exactly to do with him.
In August 2014, Lipner was facing criminal charges — grand theft and criminal solicitation. The charges stemmed from back in September 2013, when an unnamed victim told police Lipner "represented himself as an attorney... and advised her he would handle her case." The victim claimed she paid Lipner more than $400 for legal work, all the time thinking he was a lawyer. He wasn't.
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Lipner has claimed he never represented himself as an attorney. Obviously, the state attorney feels otherwise. But whether a crime actually took place may never be hashed out in the courtroom. A judge ordered a mental competency hearing for Lipner early this year. Mental health experts determined he couldn't stand trial — Lipner has a pretty well-documented history of bipolar problems.
So it appears the so-called "Hallmark Kid" has skirted trouble once again. This morning, in Judge Mark Speiser's courtroom, the system will hold a competency placement hearing to determine what residential treatment program to place Lipner in. Ironically, last year Lipner was working at a transitional living facility for folks on pretrial supervision when the criminal charges came to light.
Lipner will likely end up in a facility with group therapy, curfews, and rules — a better deal than jail. When we got him on the phone this morning, Lipner was upbeat not only about the hearing but about his upcoming presidential campaign. Yup, he's planning to try to get his name on the 2016 ballot... which would probably make him the only official candidate running his campaign from a mental health facility.
His response? "Maybe I can campaign on the weekends."