I’m here at the Orange County federal courthouse for the second day of testimony in Michael Avenatti’s client theft trial. I’ll tweet updates on this thread, so stay tuned. 🧵
The jury isn't in the courtroom yet, and prosecutors and Avenatti are fighting about exhibits being admitted during Geoff Johnson’s testimony today. Selna wants everything disclosed.
Prosecutor Alex Wyman is reading a list of them now. He’s only giving the numbers, but they are bank records. Avenatti is pointing out problems with declarations and exhibits, saying they're mismatched.
Judge Selna suggested Wyman organize them better, but told Avenatti: "If you have to go paw through documents to figure it out, we're going to take the time to let you paw through them."
To clarify, these documents aren't all related to Geoff Johnson's testimony. Some are for other witnesses. But Avenatti is focused now on records related to Johnson, specifically records related to Johnson's mental state. He says they've never been produced to him.
Avenatti said the records are with his old law firm. "I was counsel, but I don't have access to any of my law firm records anymore." (The firm is bankruptcy and in the control of a court-appointed trustee. My @lamag story from January: bit.ly/3bDURu3)
In response, AUSA Brett Sagel says he has zero to do with this, because those records about Johnson's mental state are not in the possession of the U.S. Attorney's Office. If his office had them, Avenatti would have them.
Judge Selna asked Avenatti about this and didn't get a direct reply, so he told him: "My pet peeve in life with lawyers is they don't answer the question. I'm always happy to hear them, but when I ask a question, I expect a direct and immediate answer, whatever the question is."
We're hearing from Geoff Johnson's lawyer now, Drew Harbur at @Callahan_Blaine. He told Selna he doesn't want Johnson asked questions that violate attorney-client privilege and confidentiality agreements. bit.ly/3y0d9xN
Selna said: "I'm not going to allow a private confidentiality agreement to act as a shield to relevant evidence.” So we’ll handle this on a question by question basis. Going to be an interesting day.
Geoff Johnson just got settled on the witness stand, and we're awaiting the jury. @Callahan_Blaine still has the press conference from their 2019 lawsuit announcement with Johnson on their Facebook page. You can watch it here: facebook.com/CallahanandBla…
Jury s in the courtroom. It's hard to describe a group of strangers, but there are 7 women and 9 men. (Four are alternates.) Six are seated in the audience pews across the way from me. Three are at a table in front of the jury box, and seven are in the box. #socialdistancing
AUSA Wyman is questioning Geoff Johnson. Johnson just identified Avenatti as his lawyer on the lawsuit against LA County. Avenatti stood and Johnson said he's wearing a blue tie, Avenatti corrected and said brown. Johnson says brown. Selna: Avenatti has been id'd by the witness.
With the retainer agreement displayed for jurors, Wyman asks Johnson how much in attorney fees Avenatti was to get form his case. 40 percent, Johnson says. Were there any other fee agreements with Avenatti? No, Johnson says.
Another "Attorney-fee sharing agreement" is displayed for another attorney, the one who represented Johnson in his criminal case (and got the charges dropped.) This is from November 2011.
Wyman is asking about Johnson's living situation at the time. Did he know if Avenatti's firm was actually paying his housing bills on time? No, Johnson says. Avenatti never told Johnson when the care center sued Johnson personally for not paying the bills!
Wyman asks Johnson if Avenatti told him he'd negotiated a settlement for the lawsuit that required Johnson to personally pay $175,000. Avenatti objects as misstating the evidence, but Judge Selna overrules and Johnson answers no, he never told me that.
Now we've got the settlement agreement on the overhead. Johnson says Avenatti never told hm the case settled for $4 million. He told him in 2015 he'd receive quarterly payments of over $1 million, but it was confidential and he couldn't discuss or he could lose the settlement.
Wyman asks if Johnson expected Avenatti to tell him of any money he received in relation to the settlement. "I trusted him. I would have expected him to tell me," Johnson said. Now we're looking at LA County's $4 million check to Avenatti's firm.
Johnson said if he knew of the money then, he would have put it in a special needs trust. (There has been a lot of pre-trial litigation about special needs trusts, what jury can and can't hear about them and what experts can testify to regarding them.)
We just got our first testimony mention of Avenatti's ex-paralegal and former Yorba Linda cul-de-sac dweller Judy Regnier. Johnson was sending her stuff regarding his living situation. We're going to hear from Regnier later in trial.
"Thanks, Geoff. I will follow up with Michael," Regnier says in one message. But Johnson says he DID raise the issue of a special needs client trust directly with Avenatti.
Wyman asks Johnson if Avenatti told him “it was impossible to establish a special needs trust because he’d already received the lump sum payment?”
“No, he didn’t,” Johnson answers.
"I trusted him and I would have expected that he would have told me that," Johnson said.
Johnson said he talked to someone else about a trust, and Avenatti “was furious.”
“He said, ‘We have to keep it in the family. I’m your lawyer; you don’t go outside of the firm,’” Johnson said.
Avenatti told Johnson the firm would front him whatever he needed, and Johnson specified it had to be less than $2,000 a month so he could keep his SSI benefits.
The payments stopped in March 2019, which is when the alleged theft of Johnson’s settlement was exposed in Avenatti’s judgment debtor exam. (That all came out late on a Friday afternoon after all-day testimony. Was pretty wild. My Daily Journal story: dailyjournal.com/articles/351735)
We've seen a lot of text messages between Johnson and Regnier, and Johnson and Avenatti. We're also seeing letters about Johnson's Social Security situation. Each text gets its own slide. (They're green, not blue so sorry @Apple)
We're also seeing screenshots of multiple text message exchanges. OK here's a screen of blue iPhone messages, don't worry @Apple .
One screenshot is just multiple messages from Johnson going unanswered, until finally Regnier responds "We should have this resolved by tomorrow." But the next day, still no money.
Johnson said Avenatti told him LA County was about to approve Johnson’s special needs trust, and as soon as that happened the money would be there. So Johnson started talking to a realtor about a handicapped-accessible home.
The home purchase fell through, and Johnson thought it was because LA County refused to approve his special needs trust. AUSA Wyman is establishing that this is of course all based on lies Avenatti told him.
Wyman: "Did you ever give the defendant authorization to sign a loan application to purchase a home" in your name?
"No, I did not," Johnson answers.
We saw a message Johnson sent about please sending money to his sister so his father can buy a new hearing aid."This item has already been approved by Michael," Johnson told Regnier.
"Did the defendant ever pay for your father's hearing aids?" Wyman asks.
"No," Johnson answers.
We're seeing other examples of Johnson's expenses going unpaid, including a dental bill Johnson was seeking payment on in January 2019, four solid years after the $4 million settlement.
Wyman: "Did he always pay your rent on time?"
Johnson: "No."
Now Wyman is getting into how Avenatti eventually tanked Geoff Johnson's Social Security benefits. He started receiving benefits in 2012 and got them through 2018.
Johnson is talking about the infamous March 22, 2019, visit from Avenatti, which came after that judgment debtor exam with Avenatti's ex-partner turned credit, Andrew Stolper. He says he hadn't seen Avenatti in a long time.
Wyman: “Did the defendant tell you he had just been accused in a public court -“
Avenatti objects as leading, foundation, other reasons. But Selna overrules.
Wyman asks again: Did Avenatti tell you he had just been accused in a court proceeding that day of stealing your settlement funds?
“No, I did not,” Johnson answers.
Wyman questions Johnson about 2nd visit from Avenatti next day. Avenatti had Johnson sign document attesting to his ethics and great work. Document is classic Avenatti, said he “is an exceptional, honest and ethical attorney, and I feel fortunate to have had him represent me.”
Avenatti of course shared this document on Twitter. (Who's got the tweet link for me??) Johnson says he never would have signed it if he knew about the lies and stolen $4 million settlement.
Another document Johnson signed attested to costs and expenses Avenatti spent on his case. There also was basically a waiver of liability for Avenatti. Wyman: "Did you have another attorney look at this document with you?" Johnson: “No I did not.”
Johnson says he signed it right when Avenatti gave it to him. "I trusted Michael. I trusted him with everything. He helped get me out of jai. He got a settlement for me. I trusted him.” We're on a 15-minute break now.
Here’s a screenshot of Avenatti’s tweet from March 2019 about that document Johnson signed. Thanks to the sender. (It appears @michaelavenatti deleted the tweet.)
Judge Selna's clerk just taped "JURORS ONLY THIS SIDE" signs to the other side of the audience pews, where the six jurors sit. "Ok, I'm taking bets on how many people still sit over there," she said. Any betters here on Twitter? We can start a pool.
We're back, with Wyman wrapping up direct exam of Johnson. "Did you ever authorize defendant to use your settlement funds for himself?” Wyman asks.
“No I did not,” Johnson answers.
Also covers business expenses and firm payroll. Avenatti up for cross exam now.
First question: "How did we meet?" Johnson says the Twin Towers. "The jail for mentally ill people." Avenatti: "What were the circumstances of us first meeting?" But Wyman objects because it gets into prior rulings about Johnson's situation in the jail.
Judge Selna tells Avenatti to ask Johnson leading questions to get around that, which is of course allowed in cross examination.
Avenatti talking Johnson through how he was on a gurney when they first met at the jail. Johnson's family had contacted Avenatti to "see if we could help you," Avenatti says. "I don't recall that exact statement," Johnson answers. Avenatti asks if he was heavily medicated.
Johnson says he was on meds. Avenatti asks if he disagrees he was heavily medicated. "I just don't know how to define heavily," Johnson said. He names a couple meds.
Avenatti: "Do you recall asking us to do everything we could to get you out of jail?"
Johnson: "I just don't remember."
Avenatti: "At the time, did you want to get out of jail?"
Johnson: "Absolutely."
Avenatti: "Why is that?"
Johnson: "Because jail is hell."
Avenatti: "Did we get you out of jail?"
Johnson: "Yes."
Avenatti: "What is your understanding of how we got you out of jail?"
Johnson: "From my end of things, it was an unknown. I didn't know how you did it."
Avenatti asks Johnson about being arrested while “naked praying in an intersection, correct?” Wyman objects and Judge Selna sustains. Avenatti moves onto Johnson’s bipolar schizophrenia diagnosis.
"Do you recall that you were able to get out of jail because (Avenatti and co-counsel)" arranged a place for him to live. Prior to meeting them, Johnson had nowhere to go. Johnson says he doesn't specifically recall but isn't disputing.
Avenatti asks Johnson about the care center he was placed in from jail. Johnson says yes, he was very happy with his care there.
Avenatti asks how Johnson got from jail to the care center. A van.
"And I paid for that didn't I?" Avenatti asks.
"I did not know that," Johnson answers.
"Well you did not pay for that, did you sir?" Avenatti asks.
"No I did not," Johnson answers.
Avenatti: “Did we get your charges dismissed?”
Johnson: “Yes, you did.”
Avenatti: “Were you happy about that?”
Johnson: “I was ecstatic.”
Avenatti: “Please tell the jury why you were ecstatic.”
Johnson: “Because I didn't want to go back to jail, and not having charges anymore meant that I was free to go to the next step in my life.”
Avenatti is asking Johnson about his sister’s advocacy on his behalf. He’s got emails dating back to 2012. I’m betting this is going to get into expenses and costs Avenatti said he incurred while working with Johnson’s sister.
Avenatti asking Johnson if he believed Avenatti was working hard to navigate a system “that had cracks wide enough for whole populations to fall through” (referring to LA County jail)
Yes, Johnson says.
“And did you appreciate me and every bit of my time and energy?” Avenatti asks.
“Yes,” Johnson answers.
Paraphrase: Because you knew without me, you’d still be in hell.
“Yes,” Johnson answers.
Avenatti did a great job of playing off Johnson's comment about jail being hell. Brought it up again in asking him about the work Avenatti did to get him out of hell.
Avenatti asks if Johnson remembers saying to Avenatti: "I need you to get me out of hell" during their first meeting at the jail. Johnson says he just doesn't remember that first conversation.
Avenatti: Our goal when we first met was not to sue the county, but to get you out of jail. "That was the priority, was to get out of hell. *long pause* Right?"
"Yes. For me, yes," Johnson answers.
Avenatti slowly asking Johnson about the cost of his care center, and how he was never asked to pay for any of it. Says it costs "tens of thousands of dollars every month."
"That was the rumor I heard, correct," Johnson answers.
Avenatti: "It was incredibly expensive wasn't it?"
Yes," Johnson answers.
Avenatti says Johnson was at a crossroads and needed the best possible situation to figure out how to live, and Avenatti provided that situation. "Yes, you did," Johnson agrees.
Accused of stealing his settlement, Avenatti just apologized to Johnson for ... asking "a terrible question" during his pro se cross exam of him as a witness in Avenatti's criminal trial.
I'm not going to name Avenatti and Johnson in every quote in this exchange because it’s obvious.
“Did I ever suggest to you that you didn’t need care that you thought you needed?”
“That never happened, did it?”
“Not to my recollection.”
“And nearly every time that we spoke, did I ask you how you were doing?”
“Did I ask about your health?”
“Did I ask if you needed anything?”
“Yes, you did.”
“And did you come to the conclusion that I really cared about what happened to you?”
Avenatti tries a courtroom mic drop, but he’s 10 minutes early. “Your honor, now’s a good time for a break, unless you want me to keep going.”
Judge Selna: “Keep going, please.”
Avenatti starts asking Johnson about how he isn't the one who contacted federal investigators. He never contacted the U.S. Attorney's Office. These people came to him. It was pretty effective questioning.
Avenatti is going over documents with Johnson, but now we're on lunch break. Back at 1:30 p.m. "Enjoy your lunch," Judge Selna orders.
Judge Selna asks Avenatti how much longer with Johnson, and Avenatti says a lot longer. Selna asks for an estimate, and he says two hours. Selna: "The right to cross examine isn't unlimited."
"Your honor, I'm going to be as efficient and quick as I possibly can," Avenatti says.
Selna says he appreciates "the significance of this witness" but tells Avenatti to stop asking the same questions over and over again. "Your honor, I'll try to tighten up my questions, understood," Avenatti says. Now we're on lunch.
We're back. Avenatti shows Johnson a document from the settlement and asks if he remembers telling (now former) Assistant U.S. Attorney Julian Andre in March 2019 that he may have signed it.
"You informed the government that I had brought the settlement document to you...Isn't it true that I delivered the settlement agreement showing the $4 million to you?" Long long pause before Johnson answers.
"You never told me the settlement was for $4 million," Johnson says. Avenatti moves to strikes as non-responsive, and Judge Selna agrees, tells Johnson to answer. "I just don't recall that," Johnson says.
Avenatti is going over his agreement with Johnson. He reads aloud a part about the client agreeing to pay bills for all costs on time. "Did I read that correctly?" Avenatti asks.
"Yes," Johnson answers.
Avenatti tells Johnson to take as long as he needs to find the place in the document “where it required me and my firm to pay for your living expenses and medical care.” Wyman objects, but Selna overrules. Long pause. "I don't see any place that it says that," Johnson answers.
Avenatti asks Johnson to show him where in the agreement it says Avenatti will help him with Social Security benefits. "I don't think there's anything like that in here," Johnson answers.
Now Avenatti does the same with helping Johnson find a house. Where in the document does it say he'll do that? It doesn't. Where in document does it say Avenatti's firm will pay his rent? "I don't believe there's anything in the document that requires that," Johnson answers.
Avenatti asks where in the document it requires him to pay for Johnson's father's hearing aids, and references Wyman's earlier question during direct. Johnson says there's no requirement.
Avenatti asks Johnson if he's aware that during this time, Avenatti didn't even know how to send a wire transfer online. This is after a lot of talk about paralegal Judy Regnier's work and assistance with Johnson.
Avenatti is asking Johnson about him recently taking steps "to hold people other than me responsible" for taking money. "My understanding is that that's confidential," Johnson answers. Judge Selna: "Sir, I'll direct you to answer the question."
Avenatti asks Johnson about him suing Judy Regnier for him not getting his money. Another person sued? "Jason Frank. Right? Yes?" Avenatti asks. Yes, Johnson answers. Avenatti does the same with Scott Sims and Michael Eagan. These are Avenatti's former law partners.
Notable: Scott Sims and Jason Frank were cleared of wrongdoing in the Johnson lawsuit back in May, according to this official OC Superior Court judgment. drive.google.com/file/d/1uBhCrV…
Avenatti talked about the arbitration that led to the above posted judgment and asked Johnson: "Pease tell the jury what the decision was."
Johnson: "That the people that we were suing were not responsible."
Avenatti asks if Johnson has entered into settlements with others he accuses of preventing him from getting his money. Johnson says it’s confidential, but Judge Selna tells him to answer, anyway.
Johnson says yes, there is a settlement with Michael Eagan. It's for $1.5 million, and it's from early 2020. And he's gotten the money. Avenatti asks if Eagan has been charged with a crime. "Not that I know of," Johnson answers.
“Now sir you would agree with me that if someone came before this jury and told them Michael Avenatti stole the entirety of Geoffrey Johnson’s $4 million settlement check, that would be completely false, right?”
“No,” Johnson answers.
Avenatti asks if it’s Johnson’s position that he and his firm weren’t entitled to a dime. “No, if you’d let me explain,” Johnson starts. Judge Selna says Sir, just answer the questions. Johnson says he knows Avenatti was due some money.
Avenatti just went for the jugular. "Before you took the stand today, have you ever previously claimed or testified that you suffer from mental illness?"
Johnson: "I just don't recall if I've ever said that." Avenatti references December 2013 deposition testimony from Johnson in which he said he suffers mental illness, including hallucinations. "I may have," Johnson says.
"You think you may have because that's true" correct? Avenatti asks.
Wyman objects as argumentative, but Selna overrules.
"I suppose it is true, yes," Johnson answers.
Avenatti: "Sir, in the last 10 years is there any one individual who paid more of your bills and supported you more financially so you could live independently, other than me?"
Johnson: "No."
Avenatti asks Johnson about his testimony in direct that Avenatti was "furious" when Johnson had consulted someone else regarding a special needs trust. Says that occurred in 2012 or 2013. (Before the settlement was reached in 2015.)
Avenatti also says he offered to send Johnson however much he needed, but Johnson specified he couldn't get more than $2,000 a month. (Avenatti doesn't mention that this was because of Johnson's Social Security benefits.)
Avenatti is back to following up on the direct testimony about him being "furious" at Johnson for talking to an outside paralegal about a special needs trust. Says Johnson doesn't seem to understand attorney-client privilege issues there.
Avenatti asks Johnson about using a firm credit card. Johnson says he doesn’t recall doing so. One or more of your personal expenses? “I just don’t recall.”
As someone who's been following the ins and outs of this saga for three years, I really want to hear more about this settlement that Wyman said Avenatti brokered with Johnson's care center over past due rent, then didn't tell Johnson about. But so far, alas.
Regarding the March 2019 meeting between Avenatti and Johnson, and Johnson saying in direct that he hadn't seen Avenatti in a long time, Avenatti has Johnson clarify that it's not like they had spoken for a year.
"Sir as you sit there today, you don't know exactly how much money that you claim that you're owed, do yo?"
"I do."
"What is the exact amount of money that you claim you're owed."
"$1.9 million."
"Even though you got $1.5 million from Mr. Eagan, right?
Avenatti says, so of the $4 million settlement, you're due $3.4 million (paraphrase). What about my firm's costs and expenses? Johnson says he knows he needs to pay Avenatti for that.
Avenatti: "Has anyone every told you you were due the entire $4 million?"
Johnson: "Yes."
Avenatti: "Who told you that?"
Johnson: "My attorneys."
Avenatti asks Johnson if he has relatives/associates who post on social media, but Wyman objects for relevance, and Selna sustains. Avenatti says he's wrapping up. Asks Johnson when he last met with prosecutors about his testimony. Johnson says Monday.
Avenatti asks him about the signed settlement agreement. (The one prosecutors are saying he forged Johnson's signature on.) Johnson told them just on Monday that he may have been the one who actually signed that, didn't he?
That got jumbled, but gist is Johnson said yes, he did say that. "We discussed the signature and how the first letter of each word looked different," Johnson said.
"But you told them you may have signed that," Avenatti says.
Avenatti ends by going over Johnson's initials on the document and reiterating that he said he signed it. And now he's done with his cross and we're on a 15-minute break.
One nice change today: Selna's clerk is no longer instructing us all to "please rise" as the jury files in. "Remain seated!" she says. Some people are still standing out of respect, so apparently they don't have demanding Twitter accounts.
Judge Selna tells the jury: "Ladies and gentlemen, the last hour of the day is always the toughest, so if you need to get up and stretch, please do." Now Wyman is up for re-direct of Johnson.
Wyman is going over the Johnson's alleged signature on the settlement document, and Avenatti's focus in cross that Johnson said he may have signed it.
"Did you say you may have signed this document but your signature looks funny to you?" Wyman asks.
"Yes," Johnson answers.
Wyman asks Johnson if he would have stayed at the care center if he knew he had millions from a settlement. Johnson says he would have bought a house and a van.
“Did you want to be dependent on the defendant for living expenses?” Wyman asks.
“No, I did not,” Johnson answers.
Wyman gets into Avenatti’s cross questions about “holding other people accountable.” Did Johnson ever work directly with Michael Eagan? No.
(As someone replied to me earlier, there is a big difference between stealing client money and not ensuring client money isn’t stolen.)
Wyman asks Johnson who he believes is responsible for him not getting his money.
Johnson: "Michael Avenatti."
Wyman: "Nothing further, your honor."
On re-cross, Avenatti says you don't think Michael Eagan is Michael Avenatti, do you? No. But you still accepted the money holding him responsible? Yes.
“Mr. Johnson what is your position related to the fees and expenses that were advanced on your behalf?” Avenatti asks.
Wyman objects as vague, beyond the scope, Selna sustains. Avenatti complaints that it’s re-cross; Selna tells him next question.
Avenatti ends by again asking Johnson if he said he may have signed the settlement agreement, which Johnson acknowledges. So that's it for Johnson's testimony. Selna dismisses jury for a brief break (which is so they don't see Johnson being assisted off witness stand).
Whoopsies for the USA: “Our anticipated next witness appears to have left,” Wyman tells Judge Selna. So we’re skipping to the third one. An IRS agent, and of course a special one. (They are all special.)
This is Special Agent Nshan Tashchyan, a computer investigative specialist who assisted the lead investigators in the case against Avenatti. Wyman is questioning him.
Tashchyan says he did a lot of this work in the IRS's office in Laguna Niguel, which reminds me that the IRS has an office in Laguna Niguel. Which seems appropriately boring and stodgy. Is it inside a gated community?
Wyman is questioning the agent about how they searched Avenatti's computers, how they extracted data and the role of the @USAO_LosAngeles' privilege review team which reviewed stuff for possible attorney-client privilege.
That was quick. Avenatti is up for cross examination now. First question: "Can you give me the pronunciation fo your last name again because I want to make sure I get it right?" Jury smooth right there.
The agent tells him, and Avenatti says please let me know if I mispronounce it. Avenatti then asks him about how they ensure information on seized computers and cellphones isn’t altered.
Avenatti asks why not just take pictures on a cell phone? Agents says it's not forensically appropriate. Avenatti asks if he knows of apps that allow you to create text message exchanges. Agent says no, but he's pretty sure that would exist.
Avenatti's questioning right now is focused on casting the forensic search as incomplete and sloppy, and that investigators didn't extract all relevant text messages.
That was quick. Avenatti finishes cross, and Wyman doesn't have any re-direct. Judge Selna dismisses the jury for the night and the clerk must have seen my earlier tweet because she just said "Please rise."
Selna says Avenatti submitted a sealed declaration yesterday about how he now has audio and video assistance (this stems from Sagel questioning how Avenatti had two helpers on opening day along with taxpayer-funded Dean Steward.)
Judge Selna: "There's nothing in that that's inconsistent with his financial representations to the court" regarding his appointed attorney. So that's the end of that. Everyone's filing out for the day; check back tomorrow about 9 for another thread.
Just realized something: Regarding “all rise” v. “stay seated,” it was only “stay seated” today because the witness is in a wheelchair. Otherwise it’s “all rise” all the time.
I’m working on another story, but in the meantime don’t forget about my piece from last night, which focuses on Avenatti’s defense and his cross of the first two witnesses. bit.ly/2UyuLTc

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More from @meghanncuniff

23 Jul
OK I am here at the federal courthouse in Orange County for the third day of testimony in Michael Avenatti’s client theft trial. I’ll be tweeting updates on this thread. 🧵 Image
There was some discussion a few minutes ago outside the jury about transcripts from Avenatti's judgment debtor exams, which we'll be seeing as evidence later. Judge Selna is off the bench now and nothing more is expected until 9 a.m. when the jury gets seated.
When they're not in court, Avenatti and Dean Steward and another lawyer, Courtney Cummings Cefali, are in a conference room connected to a courtroom down the hallway. There are two conferences rooms connected to this courtroom, but no one is using them. (More privacy down hall.)
Read 130 tweets
21 Jul
I’m here at the Orange County federal courthouse, where Michael Avenatti just arrived for the opening day of his client theft trial. As I reported yesterday, he’ll be representing himself, w/ Dean Steward (right in photo) as standby counsel. I’ll tweet updates on this thread. 🧵
Avenatti told the @FoxNews cameraman as he was going in, “I’m pro se because I want the truth to be known.” (No comment from the attorney he knocked aside, Dean Steward.)
OK we just got started here in court. Judge Selna is asking Avenatti about objections to jury instructions filed last night and why they were late, and he got pretty testy with him about it.
Read 129 tweets
20 Jul
I'm here in Judge Selna's courtroom for another day of jury selection in Michael Avenatti's client theft trial, and Selna right now is taking up the motions filed yesterday regarding. He's rejecting the trial continuance motion because of covid Delta variance now.
"I believe we can take adequate precautions to ensure the safety of everyone," Selna says. He says he will read the jury pool the instruction regarding covid protocols and what to do if feeling sick.
Selna also rejects Dean's suggestion to move jurors to the federal courthouse in Los Angeles, calling it "an impermissible burden." He says the audio and video in the other juror rooms in the OC courthouse is working well after Friday's mishap.
Read 87 tweets
19 Jul
Another Avenatti filing today, this time focused on ex-prosecutor @JulianLAndre's social media activity, including the fact that he retweeted yours truly this weekend. Google Drive link to full document: bit.ly/3Big0El
Here it is. Exhibit A. 👀
Not to be left out, exhibit B is my @LAmag article. Hey @gwynnstu, look at this prime real estate. 👀
Read 4 tweets
8 Jul
Just in: Judge in New York gives Michael Avenatti 30 months in prison for the Nike extortion scheme. He's facing a lot more than that if convicted in his California client theft case later this month.
New York judge just referenced the "very serious case in California." Read my preview of that trial here: bit.ly/3xhPIzI Notable: Judge isn't fining Avenatti because he says Avenatti has no way to pay it.
Read 4 tweets
7 Jul
It's 1 p.m. in California, which means it's 10 a.m. in Hawaii and time for oral arguments in the 9th Circuit appeal of Judge Carter's injunction in the Los Angeles homeless case! (Well, almost. Case is #3 on the calendar.) You can tune in here:
The panel is notably different than the panel that granted Los Angeles city and county's emergency stay request (). Instead of two Clinton appointees and a Trump appointee, we've got three Obama appointees.
Current scene. First up is a case brought by the Hawaii Innocence Project, challenging an order that denied DNA testing of evidence in a 1982 murder conviction because of the defendant’s military status. LA Alliance injunction case will be argued next.
Read 35 tweets

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