Justinians install officers, honor Coco

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Bruno Marasso and Gloria Coco

Chicago attorney Bruno Marasso stepped up to the presidency of the Justinian Society of Lawyers at the organization’s annual installation and awards dinner on Sept. 22 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. First Vice President Michael Pisano, Second Vice President Brian Monico, Third Vice President Catherine (Caifano) Locallo, Treasurer Michael Bertucci and Secretary Jill Cerone Marisie were also installed. Retired Cook County Circuit Court Judge Gloria Coco received the Justinian’s Award of Excellence at the event.

The following profiles were provided by the organization.

Judge Gloria Coco — Award of Excellence

The first woman of full Italian heritage to ascend to the bench in the Circuit Court of Cook County in 1991 and the first woman to become President of the Justinian Society of Lawyers, Judge Coco inherited the trailblazing spirit of her Sicilian immigrant ancestors.

Judge Coco is the daughter of Samuel J. Coco, an original member of the Justinian Society, and Graziella Manninice Pappalardo Coco, an immigrant from Trecastagni, Sicily. Her father had a thriving law practice on Chicago’s south side where he often provided legal assistance to the less fortunate, receiving only token payment, such as food, for his services.  Judge Coco followed in her father’s footsteps as an attorney and took his love of community one step further by dedicating her professional life to public service.

Before entering the legal profession Judge Coco, was a teacher for the Chicago Public School System.  She obtained her Juris Doctorate from Northern Illinois University and began her legal career as an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney.  Prior to becoming a member of the Judiciary in 1991, Judge Coco was appointed Special Assistant Attorney General by Attorney General Neil F. Hartigan and created “Operation Two-Timer”, Illinois’ first felony prosecution system used to combat unemployment insurance fraud.  She then served as Deputy Chief of the Illinois Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.  Subsequently, Judge Coco worked at the City of Chicago Department of Buildings where she established and served as Director of the Code Enforcement Bureau an administrative hearing review process to address building code violations.

Judge Coco was appointed to the bench in 1991.  She became Supervising Judge of the Domestic Violence Division in 1997.  As Supervising Judge, she oversaw five courtrooms handling approximately 53,000 domestic violence cases per year.  She would serve in this role for ten years, until she retired from the bench in 2007.

Judge Coco’s efforts to address domestic violence did not stop at the courtroom doors.  She has been an instructor, and lecturer on the topic of domestic violence for a myriad of associations, members of law enforcement, and the judiciary.  She spearheaded the “Outreach to Education” initiative, in which judges and court professionals visit Chicago Public Schools to discuss violence prevention and problem-solving skills with elementary school children.  With multiple professional affiliations and honors too extensive to name, Judge Coco remains a tireless advocate for children and families affected by domestic violence.

In 2004, while still a member of the judiciary, Judge Coco graduated Summa Cum Laude from Northwestern University’s School of Communications with a degree in radio, television, film, and theater performance.  Since retiring from the bench Judge Coco has pursued a career in acting, writing, and teaching.

Never forgetting her Sicilian immigrant roots, she authored The Passages of Grace, about her family’s harrowing immigration experiences at Ellis Island and the one act play, Finding Uncle Alfio, about the search for the grave of her mother’s 4-year-old brother who died while the family was detained on Ellis Island.  She has performed her works in Chicago, New York City, and in Rome, Italy before the Italian Senate.  Her essay, “Letter from Nonna – Tragedy at Ellis Island,” was published in the book “Italian Women in Chicago, Madonna mia! QUI debbo vivere?” edited by Dr. Dominic Candeloro, Ph.D.

Judge Coco’s acting credits include her recent recurring role in the Amazon Prime series “Utopia,” written by Gillian Flynn, author of “Gone Girl.”  She co-stars alongside John Cusack and Rainn Wilson in the dystopian drama about a group of young people who take on the task of saving the world after discovering a cult underground comic book.  She also appeared in the TNT series “Southland,” starring Regina King, and “Parks and Recreation.”  Judge Coco’s work in film and television have earned her membership in the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).

Judge Coco divides her time between Los Angeles, California, and Chicago where she resides with her husband of 21 years, Tom Nolan.  She is an adjunct professor at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law and teaches classes on Intimate Partner Violence.  While Judge Coco has expanded her professional endeavors to include the arts, she is still committed to the cause of preventing  domestic violence.  She receives the Award of Excellence for her many accomplishments as an educator, attorney, jurist, writer, and actor of Italian descent.

— Written by Cristina Mungai Scalzitti, Past President of the Justinian Society of Lawyers

Bruno R. Marasso — President

Bruno R. Marasso is a partner of the law firm of Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, which concentrates in the areas of plaintiff’s personal injury, representing individuals and families catastrophically injured as a result of others’ wrongdoing. Bruno received his Juris Doctor from the Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2011. Prior to law school, he attended Fordham University in the Bronx, NY, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Economics. He graduated from Saint Ignatius College Prep and grew up in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago, where he still lives.

Bruno has spent his entire legal career at Romanucci and Blandin, starting in 2008 as a full-time law clerk while attending the evening division at Kent. Upon passing the February 2012 bar examination, Bruno was promoted to an associate attorney. In 2018, he was promoted again to a Senior Associate Attorney. In September 2021, Bruno was named partner.

Bruno has helped trauma victims and their families recover millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements, overturned wrongful trial court decisions on appeal, defeated countless dispositive motions, and helped train his firm’s new associates. Notable recoveries include $4 million for the family of a man who died as a result of a work-place incident, $3.8 million for a woman who injured her back in a rear-end motor vehicle collision but made her first complaints of back pain three months after crash (and for which a prior attorney had tried to settle the case for $300,000), and $2.225 million for a man who injured his ankle slipping and falling. Bruno takes great pride in helping his colleagues learn, implement, and develop best practices for helping the firm’s clients and advancing their cases towards expedited resolution.

Bruno is also a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, in which he serves on its Assembly and the Young Lawyers Division, the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, and the American Association of Justice. He has been named an Emerging Lawyer by Leading Lawyers every year since 2017, a Rising Star by Super Lawyers in 2018 and 2019, and One to Watch by Best Lawyers in 2021. In 2018, Bruno received the Law Bulletin Jury Verdict Reporter’s Trial Lawyer Excellence Award for his role in obtaining a $44.7 million verdict. Bruno has spoken at professional and legal seminars on the topics of voluntary undertaking, comparative fault, and deposing experts. He has authored articles pertaining to litigation topics such as case management, deposition strategy, and preparing cases for trial.

Bruno is a third-generation Italian-American and first-generation attorney. He attributes his work ethic and curiosity to his mother Rose Mary and father Ronald who, among many activities and accomplishments, both worked as civil servants for local government. He had the fortune of attending law school with his older brother Sam, who has been a constant source of guidance, support, and comedic relief throughout life. He is married to his beautiful and optimistic wife Maria, who is also a third-generation Italian American. Bruno and Maria have two children, Edison (“Eddie”) and Ronan (“Ronny”), for whom they inadvertently gave less Italian sounding names. The family celebrates their cultural heritage through cooking (of course), seeking out Italian American art and artists (Stanley Tucci’s CNN show counts, right?), travel (Bruno has visited Italy two times, both times with his mother) and passing along the ethics, values, and traditions they were taught from their parents and grandparents.

Bruno believes the essential principles and goals of the Justinian Society include mentoring law students and young lawyers, building a shared knowledge of the law among its members, and spending time together to further the legal profession, enjoy each other’s company, and embrace the joy of life that is indisputably inherent in our Italian culture.

As an Italian-American who has achieved his accomplishments through the help of Italian-American family, friends, and lawyers, Bruno is happy to be here, leading the Society, and growing it for the benefit of future generations.

Michael D. Pisano — 1st Vice President

Michael D. Pisano is a Senior Associate in Ice Miller’s Litigation Group, where he prosecutes and defends civil litigation matters with an emphasis in representing owners and construction professionals in claims for breach of contract, defective construction, construction delay, and mechanics liens. He received his Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from The John Marshall Law School, where he was a member of the Law Review. Among his many scholarships and awards were the Lupel & Amari Scholarship and the Justinian Society of Lawyers Scholarship. He has been an active Justinian since law school, serving on the Executive, Newsletter, Membership, Website and other committees. He has been recognized by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star.

Brian T. Monico — 2nd Vice President

Brian T. Monico is a Principal with the law firm of Hale & Monico, which focuses on wrongful death, professional malpractice, personal injury and civil rights cases. Brian previously served in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. A graduate of Fairfield University and the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, he earned a Philip H. Corboy Fellowship and Thomas F. and Patricia A. Bridgman Scholarship and was a member of the Corboy Trial Team while in law school. He is President of the Chicago Bar Association’s Lawyers Lend a Hand to Youth and a member of the Chicago Inn of Court. He has been recognized as a Super Lawyer, Leading Lawyer, Rising Star, Emerging Lawyer (#1 Lawyer Under 40), and 40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch.

Catherine (Caifano) Locallo — 3rd Vice President

Catherine Locallo is a Partner with the law firm of Robbins Schwartz. Her primary areas of practice are labor and employment law. She earned her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from The John Marshall Law School in 2009. She was inducted into the Order of John Marshall and recognized as a Rising Star by Illinois Super Lawyers. She serves as co-chair of the Justinian Society of Lawyers Endowment Fund Scholarship Committee and is a member of the Justinian Endowment Fund Board of Directors. She also serves as a member of the Oakton Community College Paralegal Advisory Committee and the Triton College School of Business Advisory Legal Committee, and is President of the Glenview Stars Hockey Association Board of Directors.

Michael R. Bertucci — Treasurer

Michael R. Bertucci is an Associate at Agruss Law Firm where he focuses on consumer protection, personal injury, and wrongful death cases. He previously served as a judicial law clerk to the Hon. Jesse G. Reyes of the Illinois Appellate Court, and he subsequently worked at a prominent personal injury and medical malpractice firm in Chicago. He earned his Juris Doctor in 2017 from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he received the CALI Excellence Award in multiple classes and served as the Chicago-Kent Justinian Society Vice President. He went on to serve on the Executive Committee of the Justinian Society. He also serves on the Scholarship Committee of the Diversity Scholarship Foundation.

Jill Cerone Marisie — Secretary

Jill Cerone Marisie is the Presiding Judge of the Third Municipal District. She was elected to the bench in 2006, prior to which she was an associate at Erbacci and Cerone. After graduating from The John Marshall Law School cum laude in 1990, she worked as a prosecutor for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.  She has received numerous awards, including the John Marshall Law School Distinguished Service Award, the NWSBA Presidential Bench-Bar Award and the Excellence in Public Service Award from the Clerk of the Circuit Court. She serves on the Illinois Supreme Court Justice and Mental Health Planning Committee, coaches for One Million Degrees, which supports underprivileged community college students and has taught for the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts continuing education for judges.

About Fra Noi

Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.

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