Ex-Skadden Lawyer Wins $28.6M From Xerox GC Ex-Husband for Beating

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on December 23, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Connecticut jury has awarded $28.6 million to the ex-wife of John Michael Farren, a former Bush administration lawyer and general counsel for Xerox Corp. The staggering award came after the jury held Farren liable for her near-fatal beating at their mansion in 2010.

By all appearances, Farren and his wife Mary Margaret Farren had a picture-perfect life. But as the case makes clear, life for the Farrens was anything but an idyllic fantasy.

Behind the Gated Community

From the outside, the Farrens were living the Lawyer Dream: a pristine $4 million home in an upscale Connecticut suburb, two children, and gigs as movers and shakers in the legal world. Mary was working in the energy practice of Skadden, Arps, and John was serving as a top aide in a trio of Republican administrations along with a stint as general counsel of Xerox, reports The New York Times.

But the flawless facade began to crumble when Mary Farren filed for divorce. After making several unsuccessful pleas to her to drop the action, John grew desperate and turned violent. According to the Times, Mary Farren was hospitalized with a broken jaw, nose and other injuries. Exactly two weeks later, she commenced legal action against him.

The Long Road Ahead

John balked at the golden lawyer rule against pro se lawyering and represented himself for months in the civil case. As expected, the tactic did not pay off. After a mere 90 minutes of deliberation, the jury found Farren liable for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress, reports The Stamford Advocate.

The multi-million dollar jury award is meant to provide for Mary Farren's needs. A brain injury and emotional trauma have rendered her unemployable, in stark contrast to her previous half-million-dollar-a-year job at Skadden.

John Farren currently is representing himself at a trial on criminal charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault, and injury to a minor in connection with the attack. He faces up to 70 years in prison if convicted and has pleaded not guilty, claiming doctors examining his brain have found evidence of a brain defect or disease, reports the Advocate.

No date has been set for that trial, but he is now scheduled to appear for a hearing in January.

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