Avenatti Fails to Delay L.A. Trial Over ‘Slimeball’ News Remarks
(Bloomberg) -- A California judge denied convicted attorney Michael Avenatti’s request to delay his trial on federal charges of defrauding clients, rejecting a claim that the jury pool is tainted by negative media coverage he received last week after being sentenced in a separate case in New York.
Avenatti’s second trial in less than two years started Tuesday as planned with jury selection after U.S. District Judge James V. Selna ruled from the bench in Santa Ana, about 30 minutes south of Los Angeles. Opening statements are expected to start July 20.
Avenatti, who gained a national profile in 2018 while representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in a suit against then-President Donald Trump, on Monday asked to move the trial to October due to a wave of press coverage he received last week after being sentenced in Manhattan to 2 1/2 years for trying to extort Nike Inc. Avenatti pointed to Fox News, where he was referred to in recent broadcasts as a “slimeball,” “total fraud” and “shady hustler.”
Fox decided to “gloat and mock” Avenatti due to his role “as a staunch and outspoken critic of former President Trump and his feud with Fox News, which began in early 2018 when the network began calling Mr. Avenatti the ‘Creepy Porn Lawyer,’” Avenatti’s attorney H. Dean Steward said in the filing.
Fox News didn’t respond to a message seeking comment.
Avenatti also complained about public remarks last week by U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan, who issued a scathing press release about Avenatti after his sentencing in the Nike case.
“Within 15 minutes of the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, the government, knowing that jury selection was scheduled to begin in this case within days, issued and distributed an inflammatory press release, which detailed Mr. Avenatti’s conviction and sentencing and was highly critical of Mr. Avenatti,” Steward said. The move “constitutes a significant and purposeful interference with Mr. Avenatti’s constitutional rights.”
Nicholas Biase, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, declined to comment.
The case is U.S. v. Avenatti, 8:19-cr-061, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).
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