Editorial: A Time for Trial

The Connecticut Law Tribune

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On January 6, 2010, John M. Farren was arrested and charged with 4 serious felonies: attempted murder, 2 counts of assault in the first degree and risk of injury to a child for the brutal and highly publicized attack on his then wife, Mary Margaret Farren in the presence of their 2 small children. Just two days earlier, Mrs. Farren had commenced a dissolution action following years of alleged emotional abuse. Mr. Farren once held prominent positions in both Bush administrations as well as in the Reagan administration, including deputy white house counsel, and previously had retired from his position as general counsel for Xerox Corporation. Mrs. Farren had been a successful associate at Skadden, Arps, but due to the extensive brain damage she suffered, is no longer able to practice law. Four years later however, the state's criminal case against Mr. Farren has not gone to trial. It is time for that trial to occur.

Since the arrest, Mrs. Farren got her marriage dissolved, (the judgment of dissolution was rendered on June 13, 2011). She also brought a civil suit against Mr. Farren, and after years of pre-trial litigation, (over 250 entries in the court's docket sheet) was awarded $28,600,000 in damages-$8,600,000 in economic damages and $20,000,000 in noneconomic damages. Since shortly after Mr. Farren's arrest, he has been free on bond. In the past 4 years since the attack, he has hired and fired attorneys, brought countless motions in connection with all three actions, as well as appeals, tried to make a mockery of the court system, and remains a serious threat as evidenced in his most recent pleading seeking to set aside the judgment.

The criminal case has been on the docket 51 times. When Mr. Farren fired his attorneys last spring, 2013, because he wanted to represent himself, the court appointed both extremely well regarded men as stand by counsel. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Farren claimed poverty seeking the appointment of a public defender. That matter is still unresolved. In the meantime, during his civil trial, after jury selection, Mr. Farren entered a psychiatric facility and is now using that as a basis for his motion seeking to set aside the judgment. Attached to the motion is a report from that psychiatric facility outlining Mr. Farren's undisclosed suicide plan. The motion suggests that there are serious safety concerns to which the state should pay attention.

At some point, the delays have to end and we believe that time is now. Mr. Farren's criminal trial has not even begun, yet both family court and civil proceedings have long since concluded. Given the serious allegations of physical abuse against a spouse, it hardly speaks well of this State's commitment to addressing domestic violence for Mr. Farren either not to have been tried by now or to remain free on bond. If the State of Connecticut and all of its players, specifically the State's Attorney's Office and the judges overseeing the criminal docket, cannot figure out how to have this matter tried and tried soon, then there is something seriously wrong with our state's criminal justice system, and we all need to figure out how to fix it fast.

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