Judge freezes assets in Farren civil suit
Published 9:42 am, Wednesday, April 14, 2010
STAMFORD — A Superior Court judge froze $4.1 million in assets belonging to John Michael Farren, the former White House lawyer accused of trying to kill his wife over a pending divorce, according to court documents in the civil suit between Farren and his wife.
The ruling came just before Farren is to appear in court Wednesday for his criminal case. The judge’s decision sets aside $4.1 million with the possibility that Mary Farren, who suffered serious injuries when her husband allegedly attacked her with a flashlight and his hands on Jan. 6 in their New Canaan mansion, is awarded financial damages when the civil lawsuit against her husband is decided.
Mary Farren first sued her husband about two weeks after the beating, and she sought $30 million. A judge later reduced the amount to $15 million. Mary Farren’s lawyer, Wayne Effron, argued that she would not be able to continue to work as a high-powered attorney for the firm Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom.
Judge Barbara Brazzel-Massaro said $1 million of the frozen assets were for noneconomic losses — or the pain and suffering caused by the alleged beating. The rest, about $3.1 million were for medical bills and lost income.
The judge said the court found evidence the plaintiff — Mary Farren — would not be able to work for some time, but it would be speculation to assume she would never be able to return to work.
During a series of preliminary hearings in the civil lawsuit that began on March 22, both Mary and John Michael Farren took the stand and were asked about the night of Jan. 6.
John Michael Farren, an unemployed attorney who once worked in the White House, asserted his Fifth Amendment rights during his testimony, answering only questions about his background and bank accounts.
Mary Farren recounted the severe beating she suffered and the injuries that kept her hospitalized for seven days. She said she spoke with her husband about the divorce papers in their master bedroom.
He allegedly became enraged, choking her before hitting his wife in the head with a flashlight in her head, she testified. She escaped after pressing a panic button and fleeing to a neighbor’s house.
In criminal court, John Michael Farren faces charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault and first-degree strangulation.
He is to appear Wednesday for a pre-trial hearing in state Superior Court in Stamford.
The former White House attorney is being held in lieu of a $2 million bond. He has been incarcerated at the Garner Correctional Institute in Newtown since shortly after his arrest.