Monday, November 25, 2013

Remembering Judge Anthony J. DeFino, a Great Philadelphia Jurist

Gina Furia Rubel & The Honorable Anthony J. DeFino, Beccaria Award 2008
The passing of The Honorable Anthony J. DeFino last night is a terrible tragedy.  The news reported that the Judge’s home on the 2500 block of 20th Street in South Philadelphia caught fire. The Judge did not make it out alive.

Today, the Philadelphia legal community mourns along with his wife Rose, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. My heart and prayers go out to all of them.

Judge DeFino was known to so many people in so many different ways. He was a devoted family man and a zealous jurist. He was a community man and a proud Italian-American.

He was the founder of the Order of Brotherly Love, a past president of the Frank Palumbo Lodge of the Order Sons of Italy in America, and he was an Ex Officio member of the Board of Governors of The Justinian Society of Philadelphia.

I never tried a case in front of his honor, but I did have the pleasure to serve with him on the board of The Justinian Society. Every meeting was brighter and lighter when he was in the room. His smile was contagious.

One fond memory is from 2008. I was the Justinian Chancellor and we honored Judge DeFino with the Cesare Beccaria Award, the highest award given by the Justinian Society in partnership with the Criminal Justice Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association.

The Beccaria Award is given to an individual who promotes the cause of justice and the advancement of legal education, and who exemplifies the ideals of Cesare Beccaria, an Italian scholar whose writings would help lay the foundation for the modern legal system.

On that day, I quoted the late Honorable Lisa A. Richette, who said, “…it is clear that a voice like Beccaria’s is divinely inspired, and in turn, throughout the centuries, continues to uplift us to a vision of justice luminous with both humanity and discipline. Beccaria’s vision is a lasting memorial to the potential majesty of the law and to the beauty of the human spirit.”

And it was in the spirit of justice that we presented the Beccaria Award to our friend and longtime member, Judge Anthony DeFino, a man with a distinguished career in the field of criminal law.

La morte non ci porta via completamente la persona amata, rimane sempre il suo ricordo che ci incita a continuare. Coraggio. (Death doesn't take away completely a loved person whose memory lasts and induce us to go on with courage.)

May God rest his soul.

Photo credit: Mike Mountain.

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