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Will Avenatti Avoid the Gag Order?

Michael Avenatti is expected to emerge unscathed from the recently argued motion for a gag order against him. The high-profile attorney has a media, and social media, presence that would make most defendants want to seek a gag order against him.

However, the federal court judge expressed skepticism from the bench that gagging Avenatti would be constitutional, let alone legal. Judge Otero explained that doing so would have a chilling effect on civil rights. He also chided defense counsel for comparing free speech to a "trick or illusion" wielded by a "small-town carnival magician." For Otero, this issue is "serious business" (and probably one of the more legally fascinating ones on his docket too).

No Sidewalk Speeches

Although it's not uncommon for judges to warn counsel against making statements that could prejudice a case, issuing a gag order against an attorney requires some rather extreme conduct on the attorney's part.

And although Avenatti has a larger-than-life media presence, Judge Otero stated that despite some controversial statements, he did not believe Cohen met the high burden of proof for establishing the need for the gag order. Interestingly, also at issue in the hearing was whether the case should move forward while Cohen has the FBI investigation looming over him.

Though a decision is expected soon, in Avenatti's favor, Judge Otero gave no timeline for that decision.

Three More Clients

After the hearing, Avenatti told the press that he has three additional clients that claim to have had relationships with President Trump, and were paid hush money prior to the election. Avenatti then challenged Trump and Cohen to come clean about those unnamed clients.

Though Avenatti isn't expected to be gagged, it wouldn't be out of ordinary for the judge to caution him. Notably, Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, explained that he didn't put too much stock into Avenatti's out-of-court statements. Davis stated that Avenatti is an "aggressive attorney" and that he (Davis) basically disregards Avenatti's statements as mere litigation puffery. President Trump's attorney, Charles Harder, refused to comment.

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