The honorable Angelo Dominic Mistretta: A man for all seasons.

Club members with their President, Angelo Mistretta.

Club members with their President, Angelo Mistretta.

My name is Jim Allegretti and I want to tell you about Angelo Dominic Mistretta – what a perfect Italian name.

Angelo grew up on Taylor Street. He dropped out of high school because of a difference of opinion with a teacher. Fortunately for him, and all of us, WWII came along and Angelo was drafted into the Army where he served honorably.

By the end of the war, Angelo knew that he had to get an education. He enrolled in Valparaiso University. Jobs as a bartender and taxi driver paid his way through college and law school. He still knows better short cuts than Map Quest.

I met Angelo in 1974. I was just starting law school and a friend introduced me as someone who could take his place as Angelo’s law clerk in about a year. When I went to work for Ang he took me everywhere with him so that I got to see all the different things lawyers did. He let me sit in on pre-trials, jury selection, depositions and client conferences. He was a marvelous teacher. After these events there was always a question and answer period so I could learn why things were said and done.

Angelo always had advance sheets in the office. You may remember them… the green paperback books that came out before the bound volumes of the N.E. Reporter were published. He always had 1 or 2 of them with him to keep up on the law. If he got behind he even took them on vacation. Ang would tear out new cases and put them in the files. Each decision was highlighted & marked for the issues that pertained to his case. He was always ready for a motion for Summary Judgement.

Angelo Mistretta & his crew from Taylor & Halsted

Angelo Mistretta & his crew from Taylor & Halsted

He has a marvelous memory. Shortly after he went on the bench I was trying a case and an issue came up about a court reporter and whether one side could get the transcript from the other side’s reporter. I asked Ang and I will never forget when he said “Tansor vs. Checker Taxi, 1963, I think.” Of course he was right – and that was in 1980! That has always been the standard I aspired to.

Angelo is a “My Way” sort of guy. The nice thing about him is he is almost always right and never flaunts it. Somehow you come away thinking that his suggestion is just the right thing to do. I always found “His Way” to be the right way, the honorable way, the smart way, and the ethical way. His ethics have always been beyond reproach. He taught me and every other lawyer around him to bring that into the court room.

Throughout the years I noticed that other lawyers, and later judges, would call or stop to talk to him. It was always, “Ang, what would you do in this situation?” “How would you rule?” “Ang, what is the law on this issue?” He always had an answer and invariably they followed his advice.

He is always available for advice and counsel… And most importantly, for friendship. He has been my friend and mentor for 32 years. He epitomizes the American Dream – rising from humble beginnings to Circuit Court Judge by dint of hard work, intelligence, education, and a strong sense of right and wrong.

He is a lawyer’s lawyer, a judge’s judge, and a man’s man. –And he is truly a model for Italian Americans- and for all Americans. It is my great pleasure to introduce all of you to my good friend, Angelo Dominic Mistretta!

Aside: An introductory speech honoring Angelo is also included in this section of the Taylor Street Archives. The photo section has pictures of the gang he hung with on Taylor Street during the 30s and the 40s before he was drafted in 1943.

Epilogue: Angelo Dominic Mistretta died April 11, 2011. The son of immigrant parents, and one of the numerous high school drop-outs of his era, Angelo Mistretta defied our sociological soothsayers and achieved his share of the American dream.

Stories: people, HH, our veterans

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