BEST BUILDING LOBBY Miami-Dade County Courthouse 73 W. Flagler Street

Miami Most folks who stumble through the metal detectors at the Miami-Dade County Courthouse probably have a lot more on their minds than reveling in the gorgeous architecture. But ignoring such beauty is practically criminal. (Not to worry; this is the civil courthouse.) Architects August Geiger and Albert Anthony Ten Eyck Brown (true name) designed the Neoclassical edifice in 1925 after a Miami population explosion rendered the two earlier courthouses too small. Over the years, wear and tear and the addition of an enclosed air-conditioning system detracted from the spacious atrium that once welcomed the courthouse's clientele. When necessary renovations progressed slowly owing to lack of funds, the legal community, led by the Dade County Bar Association, came together and raised enough money to finish work on the lobby. Thankfully they kept the air conditioner, but the false ceiling was removed to reveal the breathtaking two-story atrium. If you stand in the center circle of the tiled floor, you not only get a great feel for it, but you also avoid the ghastly Sixties attached rooms. Delicately carved sea serpents, cupids, and nudes grace the brass elevators. Look just above them to see delightful dolphins swimming in the mosaics. Larger mosaics that depict ships circling the state seal are attached to the ceiling at the entrances. Renovations to other sections of the building should continue for about two more years. Oh! Don't forget to leave your sidearms at home.

BEST LAWYER Richard Scruggs In the corridors of the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, some people are calling Scruggs the "Greatest Ass-Kicker of All Time." It may take a bit more time to see if Scruggs, special assistant to State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle for public corruption, is worthy of the exalted title. After all, he's been a state prosecutor since only 2003. Prior to his current gig, though, Scruggs had plenty of experience kicking ass. He served under three U.S. attorneys -- Roberto Martinez, Thomas Scott, and Guy Lewis -- in a variety of capacities, from major crimes to public corruption. In 1990 he won racketeering convictions against Miami cult leader and black supremacist Yahweh Ben Yahweh and six disciples. Scruggs led prosecutions against the wealthy African hustler Foutanga Dit Babani Sissoko and drug-dealing fight promoter Willy Martinez. He also spent several years working for U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno as a special assistant for intelligence issues. In 2000 Scruggs left the U.S. Attorney's Office to run the local branch of Kroll Associates, the international security and investigations firm. But then he confided to his old friend Trudi Novicki, a former high-ranking assistant state attorney, that he wanted to return to criminal prosecution. Novicki alerted Rundle, and it didn't take long to recruit Scruggs as her special assistant. By 2004 he was very busy as the lead prosecutor in a sprawling public-corruption case at Miami International Airport. Among the nineteen people arrested so far are several with political connections to two prominent black politicians: county Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler and former Miami Commissioner Arthur Teele. Scruggs recently won a felony conviction against Teele for threatening a cop, and is now preparing to take him to trial on corruption charges.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®