Supreme Court Rejects Stormy Daniels Lawyer Michael Avenatti’s Appeal of Fraud Conviction

Best known for representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in cases against President Trump, the disgraced attorney was separately convicted of fraud for attempting to extort millions from Nike.

AP/Richard Drew
Michael Avenatti speaks to the press as he leaves federal court in New York in 2019. AP/Richard Drew

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a bid from a disgraced California attorney, Michael Avenatti, leaving in place a conviction for an attempt to extort nearly $25 million from Nike and defrauding his client.

In a brief order, the Supreme Court wrote that Justice Brett Kavanaugh “took no part” in the decision. While the justices didn’t explain his absence, Avenatti had represented a client who accused Justice Kavanaugh of sexual assaults including “not taking ‘no’ for an answer,” drinking to excess and spiking drinks with drugs, and taking part of gang rapes, as Politico reported around the time of the justice’s contentious confirmation hearing in 2018. Mr. Kavanaugh denied those claims. 

Democrats at the time were reportedly furious with Avenatti, as they believed his “circus” performance took away from more credible claims against Mr. Kavanaugh and instead made the accusations look like a coordinated Democratic smear campaign. 

Avenatti, who is currently imprisoned in San Pedro, California with a 2035 release date, is notorious for publicity-forward cases, especially representing adult film star Stormy Daniels against President Trump. In addition to his conviction for extorting Nike, Avenatti has been convicted of cheating Ms. Daniels and other clients out of millions of dollars. 

Avenatti was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for his Nike extortion scheme, as a federal district judge, Paul Gardephe, said Avenatti had “become drunk on the power of his platform,” and had behaved outrageously and acted as if he was above the law. 

The Nike case arose beginning with actions in March 2019, court documents note, while Avenatti was representing a California youth sports coach, Gary Franklin, in negotiations with the sports giant. In addition to demands to pay his client during those negotiations, Avenatti was accused of asking Nike to pay him personally millions of dollars to carry out an internal probe — threatening to cause Nike reputational damage if the company did not. 

In the appeal to the Supreme Court, Avenatti’s attorneys argued that “an attorney’s settlement demand” cannot “ support federal criminal extortion liability.” They also had urged the court to drop the honest services fraud conviction against his client, arguing that it was in violation of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process clause for being too vague. 

The New York Sun

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