Member Spotlight

Issue October 2010

NLADA honors DeFranco with Beacon of Justice Award

The Law Office of Marisa DeFranco in Salem was honored with a 2010 Beacon of Justice Award by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA). The award recognizes law firms nationwide that have provided significant pro bono representation in the area of immigration law. There were 34 recipients this year.

Marisa A. DeFranco, who chairs the Massachusetts Bar Association's Immigration Law Section, has been a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association since 1998, where she served as a director on the National Board of Governors and as president of the New England chapter in 2005-06.

She is also a member of the Women's Bar Association and previously served as a pro bono attorney for Cambridge Legal Services and Counseling Center.

Jayne Tyrrell, executive director of the Massachusetts Interest On Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA), nominated DeFranco for the award.

"I, along with the review committee, was genuinely moved by the investment of time and legal representation that Marisa provided on a variety of immigration issues to protect vulnerable clients," Tyrrell said. "It was important to have NLADA acknowledge the depth and importance of her work with the legal community."

Winners were honored at the NLADA Exemplar Awards Dinner on Oct. 6 at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C., where the Justice John Paul Stevens Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the Hon. John Paul Stevens, who retired as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year.

NLADA, founded in 1911, is the country's oldest and largest nonprofit association of individual legal professionals and legal organizations devoted to the delivery of legal services to the poor.

U.S. ADA Leoney appointed district court judge

Antoinette E. M. Leoney, an assistant U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, has been appointed an associate justice of the district court.

Gov. Deval Patrick nominated Leoney, who was working out of the U.S. Attorney's Office's Major Crimes Unit. Previously, she was deputy chief legal counsel to Gov. Michael Dukakis.

A Fellow of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, Leoney was responsible for prosecuting complex violent crime and white-collar felony cases and handling appellate and post-conviction matters. She also worked in the U.S. Attorney's Office's Anti-Terrorism Unit for Massachusetts.

Before joining the U.S. Attorney's Office in 1994, Leoney was a senior litigation associate with McKenzie & Edwards PC, where she handled cases involving employment discrimination and sexual harassment, commercial and debt collection, and lead paint and personal injury.

She also served as director of the Office of Government Regulation & Compliance at Brandeis University, as an assistant attorney general for Massachusetts in the Public Protection Bureau, Consumer Protection Division, and served as an assistant divisional counsel with the Massachusetts Department of Social Services.

Leoney served as: president of the Women's Bar Association for 1999-2000 and president of the Women's Bar Foundation for 2002-03;  an at-large delegate on the MBA's House of Delegates from 1998-2001; a member of the Massachusetts Trial Court's Gender Equality Advisory Board from 1999-2002: and a member of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's Commission to Study Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts.

She is a trustee of Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, an elected board member of the New England School of Law Alumni Association, and an active member of the National Black Prosecutors Association, Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys Association and Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association.

Leoney received her B.A. from Lesley College and her J.D. from New England School of Law. She was admitted to the Massachusetts state and federal bars in 1985.

Fabbri honored with MDLA Prosecutor of Year Award

Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Michael Fabbri was named one of this year's recipients of the William C. O'Malley Prosecutor of the Year Award by the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association at its Annual Prosecutors Conference on June 16. Fabbri is chair of the Massachusetts Bar Association's Criminal Justice Section.

The career achievement award acknowledges recipients' exceptional courtroom skills, empathetic consideration for victims, mentoring young prosecutors and professionalism.

"Michael Fabbri is an outstanding lawyer and a most valuable asset to the excellent team of prosecutors we have at the Middlesex District Attorney's Office," Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said. "Michael's distinguished career in public service and at the MDAO has helped ensure the safety of the people of Middlesex County. He is an advocate for victims and their families, with a sincerely personal stake in protecting and prosecuting on their behalf. We truly appreciate the MDAA for recognizing Michael's dedication and passion as a progressive minded public servant and prosecutor."

Fabbri currently serves as chief of the Framingham Regional Office, where he has worked for nearly 23 years. His prosecution resume includes the successful 2008 conviction of Neil Entwistle, who was found guilty in 2008 of two
counts of first degree murder for the shooting deaths of his wife and their baby daughter.

Most recently, Fabbri was an assistant prosecutor in the first-degree murder conviction of John Odgren, who was found guilty in April for the stabbing death of his classmate at Lincoln-Sudbury High School.

A 1983 graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, Fabbri has also worked at the Office of the Attorney General as an assistant attorney general and deputy chief of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.