X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Stamford Superior Court Judge Kevin Tierney found himself at a loss for words recently when attempting to describe the divorce trial of Jacqueline Anom and John Ofori-Tenkorang. So he borrowed a term that, according to his research, had never been used in Connecticut jurisprudence, and only appeared in one other state court opinion: the “Stalingrad defense.” Anom’s marriage only lasted 23 months, but the case has been pending 43 months and the bitter divorce trial stretched from Oct. 8, 2003, to Dec. 23, 2004. In a March 10 motion to reargue, the husband contends Tierney’s solution is “impermissible palimony and non-contractual property division” between two people who had never been married at all. The wife, 34, has two young children from the marriage, lives in a mortgaged $400,000 Stamford condominium and works as a respiratory therapist at a New York hospital. The husband, 40, earned an engineering degree from MIT, taught there for five years, and has four other degrees. He’s currently working for AIG International in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he earns $150,000 a year as an investment banker. In the past two years, Tierney wrote, the husband also earned bonus pay totaling $700,000. Norwalk, Conn., lawyers Jody Lynn Rapoport and James Farrell represented the wife, while Stamford lawyer Philip M. French represented the husband in the rancorous trial, which began with the husband denying every element of a marriage — including its time, place or very existence. Tierney complained that it was difficult to establish the husband’s worth because his financial disclosures “are not accurate.” Tenkorang claimed he routinely threw away his bank records. Tierney added up 2 1/2 years of check amounts greater than $1,000 for which the husband could not account, or which were sent to relatives in Michigan, Virginia and Ghana, frequently in the exact amount of $10,000. The judge concluded the husband had additional assets of $1.71 million. ATTORNEY FEES AT ISSUE At the close of the trial, Farrell, the wife’s attorney, testified that the amount of legal fees he was requesting was “extraordinary” for a short-term marriage, but were due to the defendant using a “Stalingrad defense.” That sent the judge searching the legal databases for legal references to that term. He found 21 federal cases and one Massachusetts state case, the 2002 matter of Newly Wed Foods v. Westvaco, which explained the metaphor refers to “a defender, bound to lose, against whom all odds are hopelessly stacked, but who insists on raising every point in fighting the case to the last.” Tierney wrote that, in 1942, “German troops surrounded the Soviet city of Stalingrad on the Volga River. They used aerial attacks, artillery bombardment and intensive panzer assaults. The city was reduced to rubble. Virtually no building stood.” Yet the Soviet defenders fought back furiously for months as the Germans’ supplies dwindled, in a battle regarded as a turning point in World War II. In Stamford courtroom 3A between October 2003 and December 2004, over 29 days of trial, “I saw the Stalingrad defense being graphically employed,” he proclaimed, “in Anom v. Tenkorang.” The husband relied on the law of Ghana, where the disputed marriage took place. But he never produced published cases, forcing Tierney to dig up that law. To disprove the husband’s admission that he was never married, the wife had to subpoena his doctor, mortgage banker, employer, insurance agent — all over his objections. Tenkorang wouldn’t stipulate that he wasn’t a close relative of his wife’s, or under the care of a conservator — two grounds for invalidating a marriage, forcing those issues to be proven in court. He contended the marriage photos were faked, but didn’t counter with any proof of manipulation. In his Feb. 18 opinion, he ordered the husband to immediately pay his wife’s legal fees of $150,491. In his March 10 motion to reargue, French contends the trial was prolonged because “plaintiff’s counsel could barely ask a coherent or relevant question.” He asserts that the wife repeatedly told authorities she was unmarried and contends that Tierney’s award of alimony and support will consume 70 percent of his client’s income, an “absurd” level. Lawyers for the wife did not return calls for comment.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.