Legend has it that on November 8, 1976, the Honorable Anthony M. Peccarelli wrote to Alfred P. Bianucci, a member of the Chicago Society and a resident of DuPage County, and solicited his advice in forming a local chapter in Wheaton. Anthony DiGrazzia at that time was the president of the Justinian Society of Lawyers of Chicago and, at the urging of Fred, Anthony DiGrazzia approached the board of directors and suggested a formal authorization to establish a DuPage chapter. The Chicago group issued a provisional charter to establish a DuPage chapter on May 23, 1977.

The Chicago Society directed several of its members, Fred Lambruschi, Aldo E. Botti and Alfred P. Bianucci to meet with Anthony Peccarelli to pursue organizing the DuPage chapter.

On October 28, 1977 an organizational meeting was held in Mr. Botti’s library with approximately twenty-five lawyers present. Temporary officers were selected. Anthony Peccarelli, Temporary Chairman; John (now Judge) Panegasser, Temporary Secretary; and Karen LaMont, Temporary Treasurer. A committee chaired by Victor J. Cassato, Joe Lamonica and Aldo Botti were appointed to draft bylaws.

The next organizational meeting was on November 18, 1977. At that time Fred Bianucci advised the persons assembled that the Justinian Society of Lawyers had issued a permanent charter to establish a chapter in DuPage County. At that meeting it was determined that all those who attended the next meeting, paid dues or had previously paid dues indicating an intention to be a member would be a “charter member”. That next meeting was held of December 2, 1977. Twenty-nine Italian lawyers attended.

They were:

  • Charles E. Anesi
  • Anthony Berardi
  • Alfred P. Bianucci
  • Aldo E. Botti
  • John P. Carbon
  • Victor J. Cassato
  • Joseph P. Cesario
  • Carl A. Champagne
  • Carl P. Clavelli
  • Frank J. DeSalvo
  • Douglas Drenk
  • Philip J.R. Equi
  • Lyle B. Haskin
  • Karen A. Lamont
  • Fred Lambruschi
  • Salvatore G. La Placa
  • Joseph M. Laraia
  • William McGrath
  • Dominic J. Mancini
  • Mark D. Manetti
  • Roger F. Maritote
  • Lee A. Marinaccio
  • Joseph F. Mirabella, Jr.
  • Joseph V. Moschetti
  • John Panegasser
  • Anthony M. Peccarelli
  • Robert D. Sparacio
  • Joseph Storto
  • Douglas Trent

At the December 2, 1977 meeting bylaws were established, Anthony M. Peccarelli was elected to serve as first president until the first Annual Meeting in May, 1978 and although the bylaws established that the president could not succeed himself in office, at the first Annual Meeting in May of 1978 by unanimous consent of the membership the non-succession provision of the bylaws was waived and Anthony M. Peccarelli was elected to serve a full one-year term.

In June of 1978 at the suggestion of Marianne D. Yacobellis a scholarship committee was established to consider and present law students of Italian ancestry who had completed one year of law school and were in good standing with a significant academic record, scholarships. We have since named one of the annual scholarships that we award in honor of Marianne. We have provided over $40,000 in scholarships. Judge Peccarelli, who initially chaired that committee, insisted that academic achievement be the primary consideration along with need. I am proud to say that I have served on that committee periodically and we have carried on that same tradition.

In March of 1984 under the leadership and effort of Joseph M. Laraia, a charter member, past president and current member of the Executive Committee, the DuPage County Chapter initiated a St. Joseph’s Day dinner which has become an annual event and is one of the most well-attended events in DuPage County attracting not only Justinians, but their guests and prominent members of the judiciary from Cook, Lake, Kane and DuPage Counties.

Early on we lost one of our youngest, brightest members, Ken Vincolese, to cancer. His partner at the time, Richard Russ, a past president, came up with the idea to organize a fundraiser and celebration in his honor. We have held the Annual Justinian Cancer Ball each year around Halloween, traditionally a costume party, which has resulted in Justinians’ donating over $200,000 to various hospitals and research organizations over the years.

In May or June, we typically hold a well-attended installation dinner for our incoming presidents and officers. Richard Caldarazzo presents the “big hammer” – a large gavel that will make a sound loud enough for the Justinian president to bring meetings to order.

Our year closes with a joint holiday party hosted by our organization, the DuPage County Bar Association, and the DuPage Association of Women Lawyers. This event is a celebration for all lawyers in DuPage to end their year with friends and colleagues.

We are a registered charitable corporation in the State of Illinois having first received our charitable charter in 2004.

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