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A traditional wedding this wasn’t. The bride showed up in Connecticut’s Norwich Superior Court Dec. 18 clutching her bouquet and flanked by her attorney. Counsel for the prospective groom had filed an application for an order to show cause why the couple shouldn’t be married. But first, the bride’s attorney petitioned the court to ban the opposing party from using the word “obey” in its pleadings. Her client wasn’t about to obey anyone, the woman’s attorney said before a standing-room-only crowd in the courtroom’s galley. A prominent local psychiatrist took the witness stand for the groom, but, on cross-examination, admitted that the bride was suffering from “passion-induced psychosis.” The only cure, the psychiatrist relented, was for the couple to be immediately joined in union. The groom’s writ of habeas corpus — a last-ditch effort to avoid what he termed a “life sentence” — was then summarily dismissed by Judge Kevin P. McMahon, who told the man that his legal maneuvering had about as much of a shot at success as Vice President Al Gore did before the conservative wing of the U.S. Supreme Court. Without further ado, law partners John Asselin and Susan M. Connolly were pronounced husband and wife. The only remaining question was when the busy lawyers would get time to go on their honeymoon. Connolly, according to her “attorney” and longtime friend New London, Conn., sole practitioner Kathleen M. Harkins, was due back in court the next morning. A ROMANCE BLOSSOMS The couple, who professionally wed under the banner Asselin & Connolly nearly a year ago, decided that getting hitched � for her first marriage, his second –during a short calendar would be “romantic.” After all, the two met each other for the first time in the very same courthouse at a July 1998 pretrial conference in Judge Elliot Neil Solomon’s chambers. It was hardly an instantaneous love connection, both agree. Asselin, who practices in Windham, Conn., was representing a woman in a divorce dispute. Connolly’s client was the divorcing couple’s minor child. Asselin recalled being impressed with the way Connolly quickly got him and the husband’s lawyer, Gary B. Traystman, to resolve their clients’ differences for the child’s sake, while Connolly said her first impression of her future husband was that he was “unbelievably intelligent” and down to earth. But that’s as far as it went. “It was absolutely professional,” Connolly noted. Their paths didn’t cross again for another five months. Asselin said he called Connolly for a clarification on one of Solomon’s financial orders. The matter was cleared up in a few minutes, but they kept chatting for a couple of hours. Their relationship remained relegated to the telephone lines until February 1999 when the couple met for their first cup of coffee. From there, a romance ensued. In an interview, Harkins confessed that she’s known for a while the direction the relationship was headed in. So, when Connolly left Stevens, Harris & Guernsey in Niantic, Conn., last year, “I suspected there was a lot more in the offing.” A family law specialist, Connolly now works in Asselin & Connolly’s New London, Conn., office. Asselin, whose practice is more personal injury than divorce cases, said he and his new wife are considering consolidating the firm in one city so they can spend more time together. For the moment, they see each other professionally only on sporadic occasions. But when they happen to be in the same building, “they go out of their way to have office meetings,” acknowledged Connolly’s paralegal, Mari Liggett. BLINDED BY LOVE Both “devilishly hard workers” who “live, sleep, eat and breathe the law,” according to Harkins, neither had the time to plan a “Martha Stewart” wedding, their friends said. The idea for the faux proceedings came together in a matter of months through the enthusiastic assistance of everyone from the New London Judicial District Administrative Judge Susan B. Handy to Traystman, who readily agreed to “represent” Asselin. Along with McMahon and Handy, a third judge, Robert A. Martin, presided over the hearing. Despite their careers, “we were both as blinded by love as any other couple,” Asselin gushed in an interview before the ceremony. Still, being a family lawyer, Connolly admitted, “can make you real jaded, and it can give you some real good insights.” In her and Asselin’s case, it’s taught them how to fight in a way that’s not destructive. “We do have a pre-nup,” she confirmed. Asselin, his bride explained, has two children on the cusp of going to college. In a second marriage where children are involved, Connolly said she would advise her clients to take similar precautions.

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