NEW YORK — Michael Avenatti is not “quite as high profile as he once was,” a Manhattan federal judge wrote Thursday, denying the disgraced lawyer’s bid to restrict press access to jury selection at his upcoming trial.
Judge Jesse Furman wrote that there was no evidence that media coverage of jury selection during Avenatti’s earlier trial for attempting to extort Nike out of more than $20 million affected the guilty verdict.
Judge Paul Gardephe presided over the Nike trial, which concluded in February 2020.
Furman will oversee Avenatti’s trial for allegedly swindling the client who made him famous, porn star Stormy Daniels, out of nearly $300,000 for a book deal.
“If anything, the case for allowing press access at a trial in this case in January 2022 will be much stronger than it was in the trial before Judge Gardephe in early 2020,” Furman wrote.
“The fact that Donald J. Trump, the Defendant’s erstwhile nemesis, is no longer President of the United States; and the Defendant’s other legal troubles (including but not limited to his conviction before Judge Gardephe), the Defendant is not quite as high profile as he once was.”
The New York Daily News filed a letter in Manhattan Federal Court opposing Avenatti’s effort to block reporters from listening to questioning of potential jurors. The process often reveals jurors’ opinions on the accused, politics and other high-profile topics related to the case.
One prospective juror on Avenatti’s Nike trial called him “a notorious scumbag.” That juror was dismissed from the case.
Avenatti has yet to be sentenced for the Nike scheme due to the coronavirus pandemic. The once high-flying lawyer is also accused in Los Angeles of screwing over clients, lying in bankruptcy proceedings, failure to pay taxes and other financial crimes.
Avenatti rocketed to fame through frequent appearances on cable news attacking former President Trump. He sued Trump over a $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election. Trump denies he had an affair with the porn star.