The Sun-Sentinel's front-page headline on the death of lawyer Ellis Rubin was so crazy that you might have thought Rubin wrote it himself: "A defender of the poor, defenseless."
I'm not saying that Rubin, who died of cancer in his home at 81, was a bad man. He was a wonderfully creative lawyer who loved newspaper ink and television cameras. His penchant for publicity may have started as a defense strategy, but he was clearly a man seduced by the limelight. At some point it became more about Rubin that it was about his clients. And since reality held little sway with him, Rubin had a knack for grabbing the public's imagination. Among his more unorthodox defenses (both of which were absolute bullshit), he claimed that the Kojak TV show made a kid (Ronny Zamora) kill an old woman and that a suburban prostitute (Kathy Willets) shouldn't be held accountable because she suffered from Prozac-induced nymphomania.
I only met him once, when he joined the defense of accused stalker Georgia Roberts, which was clearly a publicity grab in a high-profile case. He came to a hearing at the Broward Courthouse and I just recall that he seemed perturbed that Roberts was yapping all over the place and not following his script. He'd met his match and and soon dropped out.
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Rubin deserves our respect a fine farewell not because he was a lawyer or philanthropist, but because he was a showman. In those bullshit defenses of his, the public saw a shred of truth; there was a slice of strange, refracted recognition that made them fascinating and entertaining. And in that way he did enrich our lives.
(See Miami Herald's obit, by Elinor J. Brecher and Even S. Benn).
After the jump: Hollywood Has A Chance At Redemption
-- The Herald's Todd Wright gives us a good look at the bid by former Rep. Kenneth Gottlieb to cash in on his position and connections in Hollywood. He and and his group of developer friends (that's right, the politician became a developer -- the lowest move a person can make) will get free land and incentives -- worth millions of dollars -- to build condos. The commission needs to kill this deal to show good faith after the arrest of Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom on corruption charges (in a case that deeply involves Mayor Mara Giulianti). It needs to prove that it has sobered up and realized that city government isn't simply a racket for the benefit of friends. I'm not saying that Gottlieb shouldn't be able to build his development on Adams Street, just that the profits shouldn't come of the taxpayers' back. Now's the time. This is the deal.