Accused Ex-White House Attorney Was No-Show At Civil Trial

, The Connecticut Law Tribune


John Michael Farren
John Michael Farren

Farren's decision to not respond has proved costly. The jury ultimately awarded Mary Farren $28.6 million in damages, $20 million of which was for non-economic damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault and battery. The other $8.6 million in economic damages is for lost earnings, as she's been unable to work since the attack. The amount includes lost wages as well as what she was expected to earn in the future, Teitell explained.

Farren could file a motion to try to vacate the default order, which could wipe the jury's award out, if granted. But no one involved with the civil case has heard from him.

Mary Farren is a former associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Washington D.C. A senior partner at the firm testified during the civil trial about what a good lawyer she was. Other experts testified that Mary Farren's brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder left her unable to continue working.

"When J. Michael Farren pinned Mary Margaret down and placed his hands around her throat, strangling her, he said 'I'm killing you,'" Slager told the jury during his closing argument. "She lived, but in a way he did kill her. He did kill her. The Mary Margaret today is different from the Mary Margaret from before the attack. She's a shell of her former self and she's been transformed from the person she was before the attack to a different person."

Farren was charged in early 2010 with attempted murder, first-degree assault and first-degree strangulation. His criminal case is still pending. His criminal lawyer, Eugene Riccio, did not return calls last week.

According to published reports, Farren is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation in an effort to show he was legally insane at the time of the attack. A dispute over who would pay for the evaluation is partly to blame for the slow pace of the criminal proceedings, especially since his assets were frozen while the civil and divorce cases against him were pending. The divorce case has since resolved.

Farren's next criminal court date is scheduled for Jan. 21.

"She's an extraordinarily courageous person," said Slager. "These are painful steps for her to go through. She's been remarkably strong."

Farren allegedly beat his wife two days after she had served him with divorce papers.

She had told him they couldn't work out their marital problems because of his temper.

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