By: John M. Fitzgerald
Tabet DiVito & Rothstein LLC
Charlie Ingrassia always made me smile. Few people I know suffered as much as Charlie did. But you wouldn’t know it from talking to him. No matter what was happening in his life, Charlie was infectiously happy, unwaveringly positive, enthusiastic about developments in the law, and devoted to the work of the Appellate Lawyers Association. Even when his health declined, cancer aggressively returned, and one of his legs was amputated, he never indulged in even a hint of self-pity. I will never forget an email in which he explained that, through the process of losing a leg, he had gained a new perspective on life. Or the call in which he apologetically explained that his contributions to The Brief would be temporarily limited because additional tumor growth had been detected; he seemed genuinely more concerned about the pace of new updates to The Brief than about the newly discovered tumor growth. I last saw him, fittingly, at an ALA luncheon at the Union League Club. He was clearly pleased just to be there among his friends and among the appellate justices he so admired, even though getting there had obviously been extremely difficult for him.
Charlie passed away this past week. He was 39.
More than any other lawyer I’ve known, he passionately loved the law. He spoke excitedly and knowledgeably about new appellate opinions, amendments to the rules governing appellate practice, and legal principles. No one I know had a better command of the Illinois Supreme Court Rules. Clerking for Justice Susan F. Hutchinson was a job that he clearly loved, for a boss he adored. He carried the same enthusiasm to the Adler Murphy firm when he transitioned to private practice.
Charlie made The Brief a go-to resource for everyone who wants to learn more about recent developments in the appellate world. He made ALA gatherings more enjoyable, more memorable and more meaningful just through his presence.
The ALA is a place where appellate lawyers and judges make lasting friendships. It’s one of the qualities that makes us a strong bar association. Of all the friends I’ve made through the ALA, Charlie stands in a class of his own. Many, many other people would say the same about Charlie. It is a gross understatement to say that we will miss him for many years to come.