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Another Big Law Firm Implodes

-- With all state schools now out of March Madness, you must do the right thing: Root for hometown boy and basketball prodigy Brandon Knight. 

​-- The Daily Business Review has an interesting story about the implosion of another law firm, Adorno & Yoss. The central figure in the disintegration of that firm -- which had major offices in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and a satellite in West Palm -- was Hank Adorno, who often boasted that the outfit was the largest Hispanic-owned law firm in the United States. He could say that because he owned 51 percent of the firm. 

Now that stake looks to be worth less than nothing as the firm has been shut down and will almost surely soon face bankruptcy proceedings. The article by Julie Kay shows that Adorno -- who came up under the wing of powerful Cuban exile Jorge Mas Canosa -- was living the high life even as his firm was fighting a crippling malpractice suit, office rent payments for swank digs were missed, and his lawyers' paychecks were bouncing.

Now the 23,000 square-feet of upscale office space the firm occupied at Las Olas Centre in Fort Lauderdale is going back on the market as the tedious work of formally shutting down a once-powerful law firm continues. 

Inside more on Adorno and some observations on the latest coverage of Ann "N-Word" Murray.  

Adorno, like another well-known ruined attorney, was known for his acts of charity -- but when it came to his practice his greed undid him. He has lost everything in part due to the infamous fire fee case in which he won a $7 million lawsuit against the city of Miami. From the DBR article: 

[T]he city of Miami fire fee scandal rocked the firm in slow motion. In 1998, the budget-busted city created a fire rescue fee, charging homeowners for fire services on top of property taxes. Homeowners represented by Adorno sued weeks later. The Florida Supreme Court declared such fees unconstitutional in 2002, and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Peter Lopez ruled the fee illegal in 2004.

Adorno and another lawyer at the firm settled the case the same year, but the $7 million agreement benefitted just seven people, cut out Miami taxpayers and allotted $2 million to Adorno's firm.

Lopez invalidated the settlement, but Adorno & Yoss appealed. In a scathing opinion, a 3rd District Court of Appeal panel called the settlement "a scheme to defraud" and labeled the attorneys' actions unethical and reprehensible.

The Florida Bar followed up with disciplinary charges against Adorno. While a Bar referee recommended a simple reprimand, the lightest possible punishment, the Florida Supreme Court took a much harsher view and suspended Adorno indefinitely. The court is considering disbarring Adorno.

While steadfastly defending Adorno, the firm said it was prepared for his suspension. In 2006, Adorno left Miami for Atlanta, where the firm opened an office in 2004. He bought a $4.2 million house on Tuxedo Lane, sharing the block with the founder of Home Depot and the Atlanta Falcons, and a $2 million Blue Ridge Mountain estate in North Carolina's exclusive Linville Ridge, where Dick Cheney is a neighbor.

You see that? While the firm was going down the tubes due to his avarice, Adorno headed for Atlanta to spend millions on himself and live next to Dick Cheney. Getting the link to the story for you. 

-- Finally we have the latest Sun-Sentinel story on Ann Murray and the N-word controversy. It was headlined: "Will N-word fury define Ann Murray's career?" 

First, what "career"? She was a bus driver turned supervisor who by some strange twist of fate was elected to the school board. Since her election, she has only blended in seamlessly to the general inept and corrupt state of the school board. On top of that, her right-hand man is a convicted felon (though I hear that George Bograkos has resigned from his Murray-appointed posts on key school board committees after I wrote about it last month).

Second, in the article Murray is supposedly "at a loss to explain why the controversy has come up now, three years before she will have to face voters again at the polls." Let me clear that up. After the Bograkos blog post and Murray's incredibly ignorant response to the grand jury report (which she admitted she didn't even read), I realized that this woman wasn't fit to be in elected office. I figured there was more so I shook the trees and a source I can't name told me there were rumors about a racial slur. I tracked it down and wrote about it now because I'm a journalist, not a political strategist.  

Third, the article says that "Murray said she's at a loss to explain why the controversy has come up now, three years before she will have to face voters again at the polls."

I'll answer that question now. I broke that story because I found that Murray was a piss-poor school board member. After the Bograkos story, I knew there had to be more, so I shook the trees. Sources who I can't name told me she was written up for a racial slur and I tracked it down. I wrote about it now because I'm not a political opponent of Murray, I'm a journalist and I don't sit on stories for elections. 

Third, Murray recounts in the article "one of the most difficult conversations she's ever had." What is it? Why it's telling her grown children about the fact that she used a racial slur while working for the school board. From the article: 

Before she issued a public apology for using the N-word in front of co-workers four years ago, Murray, 68, a member of the Broward School Board, had to admit it to her five grown children.
"It was the most regretful position I've ever put myself in," Murray said. 

Oh please! Believe me, if Murray is dropping the N-bomb at work in front of several black employees, those five adult children have heard her use the word before, likely many many times. Hopefully they didn't pick up that habit themselves. 

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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