Michael Avenatti: Supreme Court rejects disgraced lawyer’s appeal of extortion conviction

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters/File

Attorney Michael Avenatti leaves the United States Courthouse in Manhattan, New York City on July 23, 2019.



CNN

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the contempt appeal Attorney Michael AvenattiHe argued that his extortion conviction was based on a vague anti-corruption law that did not apply to lawyers making settlement claims.

Best known for representing adult film Actress Stormy DanielsAvenatti was sentenced to 30 months in prison Imprisonment in 2021 Nike also demanded that he pay more than $20 million to avoid allegations of improper payments to amateur basketball players.

Avenatti, who received additional prison terms for other crimes, told the Supreme Court that the conviction for “honest services fraud” should be thrown out because the crime is vague, especially when it applies to public sector officials. For example, charges may be brought against private individuals who have a fiduciary duty to clients.

In his broader opinion, at least, Avenatti’s argument has received some support from members of the Supreme Court’s conservative wing. A Agreed opinion last yearJustice Neil Gorsuch wrote that courts have struggled for decades over how to apply fees in the private sector.

“No one can say what kind of fiduciary relationship is sufficient to warrant a federal criminal conviction and decades in federal prison,” Gorsuch wrote in an opinion joined by Justice Clarence Thomas.

Avenatti cited the Gorchuk opinion in his appeal and argued that the Supreme Court should invalidate the law. The Biden administration countered that Avenatti’s conduct was within the clear meaning of the statute of limitations — in other words, not a marginal case — and that his appeal was barred by previous Supreme Court precedent.

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Although lawyers argued in part that Avenatti was making his claim on behalf of himself, not his client, he also argued that a lawyer should not be subject to criminal extortion charges as part of a settlement request.

The New York-based 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals last year declined to overturn Avenatti’s conviction.

Conservative Justice Brett Kavanagh said he would withdraw the appeal from the court’s consideration, although he did not provide an explanation for his decision.

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