Avenatti, Stormy Daniels talks stalled by 1 juror, note says

Posted at 1:06 PM, February 4, 2022 and last updated 6:57 PM, August 10, 2023


NEW YORK (AP) — The jury considering the fate of California lawyer Michael Avenatti on charges that he cheated his prized client Stormy Daniels out of a large chunk of her book proceeds said Friday that one juror was refusing to look at evidence and was deciding the case based on her feelings and emotions.

In the note, the jury foreperson told U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman that the juror was “not going on evidence” but was basing her conclusions instead on “all emotions.”

The note began: “We have one juror who is refusing to look at evidence and is acting on a feeling.”

The note came early in the second full day of deliberations.

FILE- Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, accompanied by her attorney, Michael Avenatti, right, talks to the media as she leaves federal court, on April 16, 2018 in New York. Avenatti, the once high-profile California attorney who regularly taunted then-President Donald Trump during frequent television appearances, was introduced Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, to prospective jurors who will decide whether he cheated porn star Stormy Daniels out of book-deal proceeds. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Furman rejected a request by Avenatti, who is representing himself, that he call an immediate mistrial. Instead, Furman told the jury that it must follow its pledge to base any decision on the evidence.

The jury is deciding whether prosecutors proved that Avenatti committed wire fraud and aggravated identity theft by taking nearly $300,000 of the $800,000 advance his client received for her autobiography. Avenatti has insisted that he had a good faith reason to pocket some of the money.

The deliberations are occurring at the end of the second week of a trial that featured two days of testimony by Daniels, a porn actor whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Avenatti appeared frequently on cable television news programs in 2018 as he represented Daniels in lawsuits against former President Donald Trump. The lawsuits were aimed at freeing Daniels from the terms of a $130,000 payout she received days before the 2016 presidential election to silence her about claims that she had had a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier.

Avenatti, 50, was considering running for president himself when his rise in popularity in Democratic circles was interrupted by his March 2019 arrest on charges that he tried to extort up to $25 million from Nike with threats to spoil its reputation if the sportswear giant did not meet his demands.

The same day, he was charged in federal court in California with cheating clients and others out of millions of dollars. The Daniels case was brought weeks later.

In early 2020, Avenatti was convicted in the Nike case and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. He has not yet served that sentence. Last year, a trial on the California charges ended in a mistrial.