CHICAGO - Mortimer Smith of DePaul University, Margarita Llamas-Odom of Exelon Corporation and Joseph Indelli of the Chicago Public Library were honored with 2011 Liberty Bell Awards at the annual Judges' Reception Tuesday, April 26, at the Chicago Bar Association (CBA), 321 S. Plymouth Court, Chicago. The award is presented by the Young Lawyers Section (YLS) of the CBA as part of its annual Law Week celebration and recognizes members of the community who are not attorneys and who have rendered service that strengthens the effectiveness of the American system of freedom under law.
Nominations were evaluated by a panel of bar association presidents. Judge Aurelia Pucinski, of the Cook County Circuit Court, presented the awards.
About the Honorees
Mortimer Smith, investigator for DePaul's College of Law Clinical Programs and Assistant Director of the Center for Justice in Capital Cases, works for various Chicago firms as a defense investigator and teaches college courses at DePaul and Westwood College.
Professor Andrea D. Lyon, Associate Dean of Clinical Programs and Director of the Center for Justice in Capital Cases, says of him, "He is amazing to those of us who rely on his investigative skills, an inspiration to law and undergraduate students, and literally a life saver of poor clients.
"He is a leader among defense investigators and active in his African-American community with charities and other activities," she said. He is a long-time volunteer at a homeless shelter, the Franciscan House of Mary and Joseph and helps coordinate its annual fundraising dinner.
Joseph Indelli, Technology Manager with the Chicago Public Library, volunteers his time to provide technological expertise to the Wills for Heroes Program. The effort puts volunteer attorneys in police stations and firehouses to provide no-cost simple estate planning to first responders such as police, firefighters, and EMTs and their families.
In nominating him, Daniel J. T. McKenna, President of the Wills for Heroes Foundation, wrote, "Without Joe, there would be no technology and without technology, there would be no program.
"He was introduced to the program, got hooked and has been active in just about every event since," McKenna wrote.
Of Margarita Llamas-Odom, who works as Senior Legal Coordinator at Exelon Corporation, McKenna wrote, "Few people were as instrumental in bringing this much-needed program to Chicago as Marge.
"In 2007, Marge was our first volunteer and she took on the unenviable task of coordinating our first Chicagoland event and obtaining all our volunteers. That first event provided nearly 50 first responders with free estate plans."
McKenna emphasizes the enormity of the task. Organizational problems are only amplified by the sheer size of the Chicago first responder community, he said. It is a community Llamas-Odom knows well. She is both the wife of a Chicago police officer and the mother of a police officer.