I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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“The defendants’ appeal brief is a gaunt, pathetic document,” wrote Judge Posner

In a case appealing a contempt finding against a Georgia lawyer who was sued in Illinois for failing to respect an insurer’s ERISA lien, and found in contempt for ignoring court orders, Judge Posner wrote:

[T]he contempt order did little more than vent the judge’s anger at the defendants’ contumacious effrontery. Nevertheless the rule al‐ lowing interlocutory appeal from an order of contempt of an order itself eligible for interlocutory appeal is general and confirms our jurisdiction.

So we come to the merits. The defendants’ appeal brief is a gaunt, pathetic document (there is no reply brief). Minus formal matter, it is only eight and a half pages long. Brevity is the soul of wit, and all that, but still: the first seven and a half pages are simply a recitation of the history of the Georgia lawsuit, the settlement negotiations, and the present suit, along with questionable and irrelevant facts; and the tiny argument section of the brief—118 words, including citations—states merely, without detail or elaboration, that the defendants do not possess the settlement funds and there‐ fore can’t restore them.

I would say that if the district court follows Judge Posner’s lead, having his brief-writing called pathetic may be the least of the lawyer’s problems:

The defendants’ conduct has been outrageous. After re‐ solving the merits of the underlying suit, the district court should give serious consideration to transmitting copies of this opinion and the record to the Department of Justice and to the General Counsel of the Georgia Bar. In the meantime, we direct the district court to determine whether the defendants should be jailed (a standard remedy for civil contempt, see, e.g., Turner v. Rogers, 131 S. Ct. 2507, 2512–13 (2011); In re Grand Jury Proceedings, 280 F.3d 1103, 1107–08 (7th Cir. 2002)), until they comply with the order to deposit the settlement proceeds in a trust account.

Here’s something cruel:  The lawyer who had done all this stuff sent another lawyer from his firm as the sacrificial lamb for the oral argument, which obviously clearly annoyed Judge Posner.  Among the not-rising-to-the-level-of-nice tries:  “Mr. Lashgari didn’t get any of the money.  His law firm did.”  “He’s an employee of his corporation Lashgari and associates.”

The guy has one of the longest “um” non-answer to a question I’ve heard in an argument.

Here’s the oral argument

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Here’s Mr. Lashgari’s website: mywrecklawyer.com!  He also has a spectacularly boring Twitter feed, which I resisted the impulse to message to link to this post.


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