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.