Judge to lawyers: Keep defending broke client
Updated 2:46 pm, Wednesday, November 14, 2012
STAMFORD -- A last ditch effort by the attorneys of former White House attorney and New Canaan resident John Michael Farren to withdraw from his attempted murder case was turned down by a Stamford judge Tuesday who vowed to have the lawyers back in court to begin picking a jury for the case in mid- January.
Even though Farren's lawyers said that the attorney client relationship had irrevocably broken down and Farren --who when he was arrested for the attempted murder of his wife in their mansion nearly two years ago had $8 million under his control -- has no money to pay them, Judge Gary White flatly denied their motions to step away from the case.
"I have not heard any substantial reason to let you out of the case. The motion is denied," White said before scheduling Dec. 26 as Farren's date for his next appearance in court.
Farren, 59, a lawyer for both Bush administrations, was arrested for attacking his then wife with a large flashlight and breaking her jaw and bones in her face on Jan. 6, 2010, the day after she served him with divorce papers.
Mary Farren escaped the couple's $4 million mansion after pushing the panic alarm and driving to a nearby house with her two young daughters, police said.
In a motion with the court filed by Farren in August, he claimed that his former wife has cut him off from all of his financial resources and has in effect barred him from defending himself against his criminal charges.
Although his assets have been frozen because of a $15 million civil suit filed by his ex-wife, Farren's attorneys are trying to get $25,000 from his estate for a mental evaluation that could be used in his defense of the charges.
In court Tuesday, Eugene Riccio, one of the two lawyers on his criminal defense team said that he filed a motion with the court to proceed with an insanity defense.
His other defense attorney Timothy Moynahan, said Farren has told him that he does not have faith in his ability to defend him in the case.
Pointing out Farren's education, brilliance and distinguished career in public service Moynahan said, "When a man of that quality and intelligence says to me as his lawyer that he trusts me no longer and that he hasn't for months, that I should have withdrawn months ago, I certainly should do so now."
Moynahan also said that Farren has a $4.1 million lien on every asset he has and now only receives $13 per month.
John Farren spent six months in jail before his release to a psychiatric facility after posting $750,000 bond. He has since been released to live with family in West Hartford, but must wear a tracking device.
"When I filed my appearance in the criminal case, Mr. Farren had eight million dollars," Moynahan said. "He now has nothing. Virtually has nothing he has access to. And he is living on the charity of his brother in law and his sister."
Moynahan said his firm has already spent $700,000 to $800,000 on the case.
Riccio said going on with Farren's defense is financially injurious and is like a state's attorney or Superior Court judge going without pay for six months.
Farren said that he wished that he had the resources to defend himself.
But State's Attorney David Cohen scoffed at the notion of allowing his defense team to walk away 22 months into the case, saying that it would only allow Farren to buy time and do nothing to provide justice for his former wife.
"There doesn't seem to be any particular breakdown of the attorney client relationship that Mr. Moynahan seems to be alluding to. We have no specifics here in terms of which strategy they are disagreeing upon," Cohen said. "The whole dissatisfaction that Mr. Farren is apparently telling the court is that he is dissatisfied that he doesn't have the resources to pay his attorney and therefore his attorney doesn't have the resources to provide a rigorous defense."
"This is just another delaying tactic as far as we are concerned," Cohen added.
White said he would see the attorneys near the end of December to check on the progress of Farren's mental evaluation.