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Jury Selection Proceeding in Stormy Daniels Case Against Michael Avenatti

Jury Selection Proceeding in Stormy Daniels Case Against Michael Avenatti

Michael Avenatti, the once high-profile California attorney who regularly taunted Donald Trump during frequent television appearances, was introduced Thursday to prospective jurors who will decide whether he cheated adult film actress Stormy Daniels out of book-deal proceeds. Among 49 questions presented to possible jurors was one in which they were asked if they could be fair even after hearing evidence that Daniels once worked in the “pornography profession.”

U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman presented over 60 prospective jurors to Avenatti and the lawyers on both sides who will present evidence during a trial projected to last up to a month. Avenatti and the lawyers were asked to briefly take off their COVID-19 masks so prospective jurors could see their faces and make sure they don’t know them from their private lives. Some jurors were in a courthouse assembly room while others watched the judge by video in a ceremonial courtroom. Everyone was spaced apart to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Avenatti became well known in 2018 when he represented Daniels in lawsuits against Trump. He was treated so well in some circles that he considered running for president himself before federal prosecutors in New York and Los Angeles announced criminal charges against him in separate cases. In early 2020, Avenatti was convicted by a jury of trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison, though he has not yet begun serving that sentence.

Besides the trial over book proceeds, Avenatti also faces a retrial in California on federal charges alleging that he stole millions of dollars in settlement money from his clients. His first trial ended in a mistrial in August.

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Lawyers for Avenatti have said he is likely to testify in the case. He has pleaded not guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges.

 

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