Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti, and one-time presidential hopeful, was indicted by federal prosecutors Wednesday with defrauding porn film star Stormy Daniels. He was also indicted on charges that he tried to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to expose claims that the company paid off high school basketball players to encourage them into Nike-sponsored colleges.
Porn star Stormy Daniels’ case propelled Avenatti into the national news when Avenatti represented Daniels in her lawsuits against President Donald Trump as she attempted to get out of a non-disclosure agreement.
Avenatti also represented Julie Swetnick who accused then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of inappropriate sexual conduct while in high school and/or college, and claimed that Kavanaugh drank excessively and engaged in physically aggressive behavior toward girls, and that he participated in drugging and gang raping at parties. Avenatti and his client never produced evidence, and Kavanaugh was confirmed.
California Globe contacted the The State Bar of California to ask that given Avenatti has already been indicted on wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and extortion, is his law license in jeopardy, and does the State Bar do anything because of the charges? What is the process?
The State Bar communications office explained that while they do not comment on whether an individual attorney is being investigated, as that process is confidential, there is a process:
“When an attorney is convicted of a crime (a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude), the State Bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel receives notice of the conviction from the court, the district attorney, the convicted attorney, or the Department of Justice. The Office of Chief Trial Counsel then reviews the conviction. If the crime is a felony and an element of the offense is the specific intent to deceive, defraud, steal, or make or suborn a false statement, or involved moral turpitude, the Office of Chief Trial Counsel will transmit the conviction to the State Bar Court for summary disbarment. If the felony may involve moral turpitude, the Office of Chief Trial Counsel will transmit the conviction to the State Bar Court for a limited hearing on whether the felony involves moral turpitude based on the facts and circumstances of its commission.”
“If the Hearing Department finds that the conviction did involve moral turpitude based on the facts and circumstances, the attorney will be summarily disbarred. Even if the conviction is not a felony or does not involve moral turpitude, the Office of Chief Trial Counsel would still transmit the record of conviction of any crime involving other conduct warranting discipline. All transmittals are posted publicly on the attorney’s profile on the State Bar website.”
Lastly, to clarify, if anyone files a complaint to the Office of Chief trial counsel about Avenatti or any attorney, that office investigates the conduct. So even if the attorney is not convicted, he could still be disciplined by The State Bar of California.