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Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: August 2023 | Where to Live

Just Whose Party Is It?

Norm Tabler


  • Attorney Farva Jafri skipped a scheduled oral argument before the Seventh Circuit in her appeal case involving the former CEO of Oasis Legal Finance
  • She attempted to cancel the argument due to a reported settlement, but the court insisted that a formal motion be filed and granted.
  • Farva's failure to follow court procedures, including a late-filed motion and her absence at the oral argument, led to her reprimand for neglecting her duties to the court.
Just Whose Party Is It?
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Readers of a certain age (say, those eligible for the Senior Lawyers Division) may recall Lesley Gore’s 1960s hit, It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To. The song tells the mournful story of a young hostess who discovers at her own birthday party that her boyfriend has dumped her for someone else. She feels free to cry if she wants to because it is, after all, her party.

We don’t know whether New York attorney Farva Jafri was thinking of Lesley’s song (or had even heard of it) when she decided that she could skip her scheduled oral argument before the Seventh Circuit. True, it was her appeal in the sense that she had filed it. But the court’s reaction to the snub made clear who was in charge, and it wasn’t Farva.

Farva represented the former CEO of litigation funder Oasis Legal Finance in a suit against that company. The district court awarded the company summary judgment on most claims, in effect finding that Farva’s client had infringed on the company’s trademark by launching new ventures using the Oasis name.

Farva filed an appeal with the Seventh Circuit. Oral argument was scheduled for 9:30 on a Monday morning. Late in the afternoon of the preceding Friday, Farva telephoned the court clerk’s office to report that the case had settled, so the scheduled oral argument should be cancelled.

The clerk’s office informed Farva that it didn’t work that way: The argument would proceed unless a motion was filed and then granted by the court. Later that Friday, after the close of business, Farva filed a motion to dismiss. Not surprisingly, the court did not act on it over the weekend.

On Monday morning, just before the scheduled argument, the court denied the motion because it was filed too late, was not signed by both parties, and failed to address cost allocations. In addition to denying the motion, the court ordered the parties to appear before it to discuss cost allocations.

When the court convened for the oral argument, Farva was a no-show. The court was not happy. It issued an order requiring her to show cause why she should not face professional discipline.

Already in a hole, Farva kept digging. In her response to the show-cause order, she recited that she had relied on opposing counsel to represent her views at the oral argument. But she went on to criticize that same opposing counsel for what she characterized as an inaccurate statement of how costs and fees were to be allocated.

What’s more, Farva’s response did not even attempt to explain why she had waited until after the close of business on the Friday before the scheduled Monday hearing to file her motion, or why she had disregarded the instructions of the clerk’s office and the requirements of Rule 42(b) of the Appellate Rules of Procedure.

Worst of all in the court’s view, Farva seemed oblivious of the fundamental truth that "it is the court’s power, not that of counsel, to decide when a case requires argument." (italics added)

So grave was Farva’s error, the court concluded, that:

Some formal response is necessary. We therefore reprimand Jafri for neglect of her duties to this court. This is a public reprimand, which Jafri must report whenever called on to disclose her disciplinary history.

Farva may have filed the appeal, but it was still the court’s party. (She can, however, cry if she wants to.)

The case is Oasis Legal Finance v. Chodes, 7th Cir.