7th Circuit reprimands lawyer for skipping oral arguments, relying on opposing counsel

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The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Chicago has reprimanded a New York lawyer for skipping oral arguments in a late-settled case and relying on opposing counsel to represent the parties’ joint views on costs.

The court publicly reprimanded Farva Jafri of Armonk, New York, in a Dec. 3 order, report Law360 and Bloomberg Law.

The appeals court described the situation in its order to show cause asking Jafri to explain why she missed the arguments.

Jafri had called the court Friday, Oct. 22, saying the case has settled and was seeking to cancel oral arguments, which were set for 9:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 25. The clerk informed Jafri that oral arguments would proceed unless she filed a motion to dismiss that was granted.

Jafri filed the motion after close of business Oct. 22. The court didn’t act on the motion over the weekend, and oral arguments were Oct. 25. Jafri didn’t show up, but the lawyer for the opposing party was there.

The appeals court said it didn’t act on Jafri’s motion because of the late filing and its “incompleteness.” The motion wasn’t signed by the opposing counsel and didn’t mention costs or terms.

The appeals court said its ability to inquire about costs or other terms was frustrated by Jafri’s failure to show up at arguments.

Jafri filed a response to the show-cause order that didn’t try to explain “why the motion was filed so close to argument, why it was incomplete, or why she felt free to disregard the instruction from the clerk’s office,” the appeals court said in its reprimand order.

“Indeed, her response does not mention any of these things. Instead, she asserts, as if it were obvious, that, once the parties have settled a case, one side’s lawyer is free to rely on the other side’s lawyer to explain matters to the court. … Jafri’s response states that she relied on counsel for opposing litigants to represent the joint views of all parties—and she then chastises opposing counsel for what she calls an inaccurate statement about how the settlement handles appellate costs and fees. One major problem with this approach is that it is the court’s power, not that of counsel, to decide when a case requires argument.”

Jafri did not immediately respond to the ABA Journal’s requests for comment by email and in a message left at her office.

The case involved claims by the Oasis Legal Finance Operating Co. that its former CEO, Gary Chodes, wrongly used the company’s name in his new ventures, according to Law360.

See also: “Lawyer with over $543K in student debt gets reprimand vacated after telling court of financial hardship”

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