Best Local Boy Gone To Heaven (2007)

Ellis Rubin

When colorful attorney Ellis Rubin died of cancer in December, most people remembered the 81-year-old for his unconventional — some say theatrical — legal strategies and larger-than-life clients. In fact he is known nationally as the first lawyer who wanted to use the now-common "TV intoxication" defense in the notorious 1977 Ronnie Zamora murder trial. What people didn't know was that this same attorney also wore a white hat. He consistently battled racial discrimination, and in 1954 the Florida Junior Chamber of Commerce named him one of the "most outstanding young men" of the state for defending — free of charge — scores of indigent young African Americans. However, he said his proudest moment was being jailed on a contempt of court charge for refusing to represent a client he knew was going to perjure himself. His list of clients was equally impressive. He represented Mercury Morris, Jackie Mason, Hedy Lamar, the Guardian Angels, and another recently deceased local, E. Howard Hunt.


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