February 2022 Justinian Member of the Month
The Honorable Rosemarie Defino-Nastasi
February 2022 Justinian Member of the Month
The Honorable Rosemarie Defino-Nastasi presides in the Court of Common Pleas Criminal Trial Division in Philadelphia. She was elected to the bench in 2001 and retained in 2011 and 2021.
Judge Defino-Nastasi earned a bachelor's degree from Temple University in 1988.
She graduated from Temple University, James E. Beasley School of Law in 1991.
Judge Defino-Nastasi began her legal career working as an Assistant Defender for The Defender's Association of Philadelphia. She then joined her family's law firm in South Philadelphia working alongside her brothers, Michael and Vincent Defino. Judge Defino- Nastasi has presided in the Criminal Trial Division for over twenty years.
Born and raised in South Philadelphia, Judge Defino-Nastasi is the daughter of the late Rose Defino and the late Honorable Anthony J. Defino. She and her father were the first father-daughter jurists to serve at the same time in Philadelphia.
The Millay Achievement Award from Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti High School (2009)
Honored by the Adelphia Lions Club (2011)
Sons of Italy Person of the year (2012)
The Philadelphia Pinnacle Award (2013)
South Philadelphia Business Association Person of the Year (2019)
Citations in Recognition of Service from:
Philadelphia City Counsel (2013, 2019)
The Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (2019)
The House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of PA (2012, 2019)
Una Piccola Conversazione
1. How long have you been a member of the Justinian Society?
Over 20 years.
2. Why did you join the Justinian Society, and what do you hope to gain from membership?
I began attending events with my father, Judge Anthony DeFino, many, many years ago. As a young attorney, I was able to interact with seasoned attorneys and Judges in an informal setting outside of the courtroom, where they didn't seem larger than life. I loved listening to their war stories and learning from them. The Justinian Society provides a great support and networking experience for those in the legal profession. Being a judge can sometimes be an isolating experience, so it feels good to interact off the bench with attorneys.
3. What do you love or enjoy most about your job?
I love presiding over jury trials. The action is intense. I enjoy watching the adversarial process at work. Everyone is on their best game because the stakes are so high. I am impressed by the collective intelligence and commonsense of a jury. I enjoy talking to them after a verdict and am amazed at how, as non-lawyers, they seem to always get it right.
4. How would you define success?
By the number of people who sincerely smile when they see you because you have touched their life in some positive way.
5. Who or what inspires you?
Young people inspire me, especially law students and young attorneys. They are so full of energy and passion for the law, and so willing to learn. I enjoy mentoring them. I find that it reignites my passion for criminal law.
6. If you could choose anyone in history as a mentor, who would you choose and why?
There would have to be at least two- Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Agatha Christie. RBG fought for equality and gave a voice to those who weren't being heard. Her career teaches us that those of us who have been blessed with the ability to speak out for others have a responsibility to do so. Agatha Christie intrigues me. I love mysteries and I have enjoyed reading her novels since I was a teenager. I am amazed by the intricacy of her thinking and her character study. I would love to get inside her mind.
7. Name one valuable lesson you've learned in your life and that you would advise other members to follow?
Always be prepared, keep an open mind and rely on your common sense. Your common-sense is derived from all the knowledge you have gained throughout the years.
8. What's something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?
I grow my own vegetables. I love that I have a garden in the city. I once grew a zucchini that was three feet long and my brothers used it as a good luck charm for the Eagles. They called it the "Googootz".
9. What's the last book you read?
My Brilliant Friend
10. What's your favorite thing about Philadelphia, i.e., sports team, restaurant, museum, history, music etc.?
The food. I love to eat and to cook. My favorite restaurants are The Saloon and Aroma. My favorite places to shop for fresh ingredients to cook a meal are the Italian Market and the Reading Terminal Market.