Catholic Lawyers name winners of CLS top award

Two attorneys and a judge are the recipients of this year’s Monsignor Charles J. Malloy Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor given by the Catholic Lawyers Society of Metropolitan Detroit.

Auburn Hills attorney Paul J. Palgut, a past president of the Catholic Lawyers Society of Metropolitan Detroit, was recognized at the organization's annual meeting, outdoor Mass and picnic earlier this month.

The late Marisa Claudia Petrella, also a past president of CLSMD, and the late Judge Paul S. Teranes, a longtime member and director of the society, was honored posthumously.

The Msgr. Malloy Award, presented annually by CLSMD, recognizes Catholic judges and lawyers whose service and character embody the highest values of both the Catholic faith and the legal profession.

The award is named for Monsignor Charles J. Malloy, a canonical lawyer for the Archdiocese of Detroit and CLSMD’s first spiritual director.  

CLSMD President Robert S. Gazall said the honorees were chosen because “They exemplify the best of our faith and our profession.

“Paul Palgut served CLSMD tirelessly in leadership positions, despite having a busy worker’s compensation practice. Marisa Petrella was not only an exceptional litigator, but also a dedicated volunteer for Catholic organizations and causes. And Judge Teranes had a distinguished career as a prosecutor and jurist despite losing his eyesight as a child.”

Palgut, who grew up in Detroit’s Corktown, attended Sacred Heart Major Seminary and earned a Master’s degree in theology from the University of Detroit before receiving a law degree from Detroit College of Law and being admitted to the practice of law in 1978.  

He worked for Michigan Mutual in Detroit before being hired in 1979 by Travelers Insurance, where he handled worker’s compensation litigation until his retirement in December 2007. He is presently of counsel to Esper and Associates,  Giarmarco, Mullins & Horton, PC, and Aiello Law Group, handling worker’s compensation litigation.  

He served as president of CLSMD from 2004-2006 and is considered the society’s unofficial historian. He and his wife Jan are members of St. Irenaeus in Rochester Hills.

Petrella, who earned undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Detroit, was the founding partner of the law firm of Petrella Brown PLC in Southfield, concentrating her practice on estate and immigration law.

She was admitted to practice before many state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

In 2020, she was named “Cavaliere del l’Ordine della Stella d’Italia” (Knight of the Order of the Italian Star), Italy’s highest honor for a non-Italian citizen, for her exceptional legal work on behalf of the Italian Consulate in Detroit.

She was a volunteer and board member for the Catholic Foundation of Michigan, St. Regis Catholic Church, Mercy High School, Mother and Unborn Baby Care, and Orchestra Sono. She served as president of CLSMD from 1996-97.

Teranes, despite completely losing his sight to congenital glaucoma, graduated with honors from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts and earned his law degree from the University of Michigan in 1961.

After 10 years as an assistant Wayne County prosecutor, he was appointed to the Wayne County Circuit Court by Gov. William Milliken in 1982 and was elected to three six-year terms.

Michigan Lawyers Weekly chose him as one of Michigan’s most respected judges.

In addition to his longtime service on the CLSMD board of directors, he served on the boards of Leader Dogs for the Blind and SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transit) and on the Michigan Law Association Committee on the Americans with Disabilities Act.  

He and his wife Barbara were active parishioners for many years at St. Philomena Catholic Church in Detroit.

Past Msgr. Malloy award winners include U.S. District Court Judge Terrence G. Berg, Bloomfield Hills attorney Gerard Andree, Detroit attorney Dennis J. Clark, former Wayne County Circuit Chief Judge Robert J. Colombo and appellate lawyer John P. Jacobs.



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