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Law Day, May 1, 2009                  Law Day Home

"A Legacy of Liberty
Celebrating Lincoln's Bicentennial"

Law Day 2009

Montage of Photos from Law Day Ceremony, Hartford Superior Court
From bottom left clockwise: Attorneys Frederick Vollono and Richard Mahoney flank President Abraham Lincoln impersonator Howard Wright.; Hartford Judicial District Administrative Judge Marshall K. Berger, Jr. greets “President Lincoln.” Judges James M. Bentivegna, Grant Miller and Edward S. Domnarski process into the courtroom; President Lincoln addresses the gathering; Hartford County Law Day Co-Chair David W. Cooney and Judge Berger with Union escorts; “President Lincoln” with Judge Michael R. Sheldon; Judge Berger and Attorney Cooney; The Hon. Raymond R. Norko poses with the historical guests; Bottom center: The Hon. Julia L. Aurigemma chats with the “President.”

Lincoln Pays a Visit to 95 Washington Street
HARTFORD—On Law Day, Friday, May 1st, the Judges of the Hartford JD weren’t the only figures wearing black. Not long after a procession of Judges filled the jury seats in Center Court at the 95 Washington Street Courthouse, a tall, lanky man dressed in black strode into the courtroom following two Union soldiers. As he passed in front of the Judges, he tipped his top hat, and then took his place at the dais.

Within seconds the bearded semblance of Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s 16th President, regaled those gathered with thoughts of his visit to Hartford in March 1860 and a recitation of the Emancipation Proclamation. The visitor was obviously not the ghost of Lincoln but Howard Wright of Howard Wright, Lincoln impersonatorCanton, co-chairman of Connecticut’s Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and a popular Lincoln impersonator.

Wright joined the Hartford County Bar Association (HCBA) and the Hartford JD in observing Law Day, which this year celebrates the 200th birthday of President Lincoln. Called A Legacy of Liberty the day is noted around the country by various legal establishments with a panoply of ceremonies. Certainly this one honored Lincoln uniquely while, at the same time, focused on those in Hartford who have made singular contributions to the community.

In his welcome, Hartford JD Administrative Judge Marshall K. Berger, Jr. thanked the HCBA’s Law Day Committee and incoming Bar Association President John King for their co-sponsorship of the day then said of Lincoln:

…It should be noted that as we remember and honor President Lincoln today, members of our association, in existence since 1783, were surely present when he spoke in Hartford on March 5th, 1860.

He was in that period before becoming President, a trial lawyer. He practiced law from 1836 to 1860 and it is said that he handled over 5,000 cases. But today’s theme is not about his law practice; it is about his true legacy to this country. It was in Hartford where he continued to win over the electorate of New England in his very vocal stand against the expansion of slavery.

Following a reading of a Law Day Official Proclamation from Governor M. Jodi Rell by King, Attorney David W. Cooney, Co-chair of the Law Day Committee, introduced Howard Wright, ergo Abraham Lincoln. Wright, Dean of Students of the Upper School at Renbrook in West Hartford, has been doing Lincoln impersonations for five years and even hired a dialect coach to help him speak with a Kentucky drawl. 

Escorting “Lincoln” into the courtroom were Civil War reenactors, Attorneys Richard C. Mahoney and Frederick Vollono of Kenny Brimmer & Mahoney, LLC of Wethersfield. 

Following “Lincoln’s” recitations, Attorney Anne Kelly Zovas, HCBA Scholarship Committee Co-Chair, honored high school seniors Tasha C. Bryan and Mariah A. Forbes of Hartford Public and Ersa Llakmani of Bulkeley with $500 Scholarship Awards. Also during the morning festivities, Attorney Sonia M. Pedraza of Shipman & Goodwin, LLP received the HCBA’s 2009 Pro Bono Award from Attorney King, while Attorney Cooney presented Alyce F. Hild, Executive Director of Loaves & Fishes Ministries, with the 2009 Liberty Bell Award.

Attorney David W. Cooney, Co-Chair of the Hartford County Bar Association’s Law Day presentation, listens as Alyce F. Hild, Executive Director of Loaves & Fishes Ministries accepts the 2009 Liberty Bell Award.   High school seniors Ersa Llakmani of Bulkeley and Mariah A. Forbes of Hartford Public pose with Attorney Anne Kelly Zovas, HCBA’s Scholarship Committee Co-Chair after receiving their scholarship awards.    The 2009 Pro Bono Award recipient, Attorney Sonia M. Pedraza, with incoming HCBA President John C. King.

As those gathered left the courtroom, Wright noted that his favorite Lincoln line was, “Make haste slowly.”

Hartford Courant Newspaper Article from 1860 when Lincoln visited Hartford - PDF


Students Participating in Law Day Ceremony from New Britain High School

Students participating in Law Day Ceremony at New Britain High School

Law Day Remarks by Hon. Henry S. Cohn in New Britain


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