STAMFORD -- A civil suit seeking millions in damages from former White House counsel John Michael Farren for nearly beating his wife to death with a metal flashlight in their New Canaan mansion nearly four years ago is set to begin Monday.
Over the past week at state Superior Court in Stamford, Farren, who is representing himself and was uncharacteristically dressed down in blue jeans and a red sweater, along with his former wife's attorneys Ernie Teitel and Paul Slager have picked six jurors to sit in on the trial and three alternates.
Up until last week, all of Farren's dozens of appearances at the courthouse since his release on bond have been made wearing conservative suits.
Farren has served as general counsel and vice president of external affairs for the Xerox Corp. He also served as undersecretary of commerce for international trade under President George H.W. Bush and in the White House counsel's office under President George W. Bush.
The trial brought by Farren's former wife Mary Margaret Farren has been years in the planning and is unexpectedly taking place before his pending criminal trial for attempted murder. The criminal case has been mired over the past few months over the question of whether Farren, 60, whose assets have been frozen by his former wife, will be able to get a public defender to help him defend the case.
Farren is risking a 70-year maximum sentence if the case goes to trial and he is found guilty on all charges. He is currently out on bond and living with his sister in the Hartford area.
According to the lawsuit and Farren's arrest affidavit on the criminal charges, on Jan. 4, 2010 Mary Farren served her husband with divorce. Two days later Farren asked his wife to drop the divorce. When Mary Farren suggested that the two go to counseling together, but refused to drop the divorce, Farren allegedly went berserk and tackled her, pulled out her hair and began hitting her with a metal flashlight, according to a police report. Police also said Mary Farren passed out and awoke to her husband strangling her. She lost her sight, but managed to press a panic button in their bedroom that set off an alarm and alerted police.
Mary Farren was somehow able to get out of the house and found refuge at a neighbor's home with her two children.
Over the past couple of weeks Farren has tried to postpone the case because he is preparing for his criminal trial, but trial Judge Robert Genuario denied the motion.
Farren has also asked that the case be transferred to a different court because he said he does not believe he can get a fair trial because The Advocate in its coverage has "unearthed the media frenzy and bias" over the case, according to Farren's motion filed with the court. Only one reporter was seen during jury selection last week. Genuario also denied that motion.
According to a trial report filed by Teitel and Slager, the civil trial, which is expected to last about six days, will be relying on many of the same witnesses and exhibits that will be used at Farren's criminal trial.
Mary Farren, a former high-powered attorney herself who worked in the Skadden, Arps office in Washington, D.C., will be called to testify against her former husband.
Teitell and Slager also plan to call Farren. The neighbors, to whose home Mary Farren fled, will also be called along with as many as nine New Canaan police officers called to investigate the assault, as well as up to three responding medics and various nannies who worked for the Farrens.
The attorneys are also ready to call a number of doctors who treated Mary Farren at various points over the past four years, who will testify about the damaging and lingering effects of the brutal assault. Read Full Article
Exhibits shown to the jury will include police photographs of Mary Farren after the attack as well as videotape of the Farren household showing blood and weapons at the scene after police arrived.
The jury will also see the flashlight used against Mary Farren as well as clumps of her hair and a bloody knife also found at the scene.