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Roland D. Cassata of Chicago, IL 1998
Posted by: Charlene Reinhart (ID *****2588) Date: April 09, 2010 at 08:51:44
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Chicago Tribune (IL) - August 17, 1998
Roland D. Cassata, 65, of Oak Brook, a criminal defense attorney who championed liberal causes and the rights of the accused for more than 35 years, died Saturday in Hinsdale Hospital.

A native of Chicago, he handled high profile cases such as the 1969 murder trial of Cornell Steele, who was alleged to be an enforcer for the Black P. Stone Nation street gang. Steele was sentenced to 100 to 300 years in prison for killing a fellow gang member.

In 1993, he represented a group of parents and students from Naperville Central High School who fought to preserve the Redskin mascot and nickname, which were dropped because of complaints that they offended Native Americans.

"I always thought of him as a classic liberal, even though he was a pretty conservative guy," said his son Dion.

His son said Mr. Cassata saw himself as being "the last friend" of accused criminals.

"He always thought that more and more, the rights of the individuals get trampled on," he said.

In addition to being a criminal defense lawyer, Mr. Cassata, who worked in both Chicago and Wheaton, also handled personal injury cases.

He was a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and graduated from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1961.

He was former chairman of the Defense of Prisoners Committee of the Chicago Bar Association, and served as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association. He was active in Chicago-Kent College of Law alumni events and had been a member of the Chicago Chess Foundation.

He served in the Army from 1953 to 1955.

Other survivors include his wife, Marjorie; another son, Steven; and his mother, Rose.

Visitation will be from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday at Hursen Funeral Home, 4001 W. Roosevelt Rd., Hillside. Mass will be said at 9:30 a.m. Tuesdayin Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church, at 16th Street and Summit Avenue, Oakbrook Terrace.

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