NEW YORK – It’s highly likely that Michael Avenatti will testify at a trial in New York where the high-profile California lawyer is accused of defrauding pornstar Stormy Daniels over the proceeds of a book deal, according to his lawyers.
Lawyers mentioned the probable testimony in a letter Thursday as they asked a judge to postpone his January 24 trial for four months.
They cited lengthy documents which they said were recently requested by prosecutors in case Avenatti was planning to testify.
The requests were contained in a subpoena which, according to lawyers, identified “broad categories of documents which go to the heart of the allegations in this case, as well as the defenses available to Mr Avenatti”.
The lawyers wrote that there is “a high probability that Mr. Avenatti will testify in his own defense”.
They also asked for the postponement on the grounds that a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases in New York in recent weeks would make it difficult to obtain a representative sample of the community as jurors.
“By all accounts, the situation will only get worse in the weeks to come,” the lawyers wrote. “The trial during this wave also compromises Mr. Avenatti’s rights to be tried by an impartial jury and not to be subjected to coercive verdicts.”
Avenatti, who rose to prominence in 2018 thanks to frequent appearances on cable TV shows when he represented Daniels in lawsuits against then-President Donald Trump, did not testify at a lawsuit that ended early last year with his conviction for attempting to extort tens of millions of dollars from Nike.
In that case, Avenatti was representing a coach of the California Amateur Basketball League when prosecutors said he threatened to use his media access to scramble the name of the sportswear giant if he didn’t give her was not paying up to $ 25 million.
Sentenced to 2.5 years in prison last July, Avenatti has managed to avoid starting his prison term as he prepares for the book’s proceeds trial as well as a new trial in California on federal charges alleging that ‘He stole millions of dollars in settlement money from his clients. His first trial ended in an overturn in August.
Avenatti, who remains under house arrest in California, had successfully cited the January trial date in the book case as an excuse to delay reporting to jail.
In October, prosecutors urged a judge to demand that Avenatti start serving his prison sentence.
Prosecutors declined to comment on Friday through a spokesperson.