After Stormy Daniels’s attorney Michael Avenatti tweeted the bombshell revelations last week regarding the payments made to Trump fixer/lawyer Michael Cohen by AT&T, Novartis, and other companies seeking “consulting services” after Trump’s inauguration, Cohen tried to have Avenatti barred from representing Daniels in the New York court case where Cohen is suing the federal government over the seizure of his records in a series of FBI raids.
Avenatti wants to represent the adult film star’s interests in the case, since Cohen’s files likely contain details of the funding of the payment made to Daniels for her silence about her relationship with President Trump, as well as evidence of whether the president knew about the payment before it was made and whether Cohen was in fact reimbursed by Trump.
As a member of the California bar, Avenatti requires a pro hac vice admission to represent a client in a different state, a legal formality that ensures that the lawyer is the member in good standing of another state’s bar and is familiar with local laws and procedures before allowing them to represent a client out of their home state.
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After Avenatti’s disclosure of Cohen’s secret shady business dealings, Cohen petitioned the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York to reject Avenatti’s pro hac vice admission on the grounds that his disclosure of Cohen’s confidential information somehow disqualified him from appearing in Federal Court in New York.
Today, Stormy Daniels’ attorney struck back at Cohen with a court filing shooting down any legal basis for preventing him from representing Daniels in the case. Avenatti announced his move to the world on Twitter.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) May 14, 2018
Avenatti’s filing basically destroys Cohen’s argument, citing his previous appearances before the same court under a pro hac vice admission and the fact that Cohen “fails to cite any legal authority that would support the denial of pro hac vice admission. In fact, Mr. Cohen does not cite the Court to any legal authority at all,” Avenatti’s filing states.
Daniel’s lawyer also points to the fact that the information he circulated about Cohen’s finances were confirmed and amplified by subsequent reports on national news outlets and confirmed by the companies that made the payments.
“That Mr. Cohen may be dismayed that these damaging revelations have come to light and have been proven true does not come remotely close to justifying a denial of Mr. Avenatti’s right to appear before this Court. As discussed in her motion to intervene, Ms. Clifford has very important and legitimate interests in protecting her records. She should not be denied counsel from representing and advancing those interests based on Mr. Cohen’s embarrassment resulting from discomforting information being made public,” the legal brief goes on to explain.
Avenatti also cites First Amendment rights and the fact that the law does not prohibit the “disclosure of banking information and suspicious activity reports” from anyone except “financial institutions and government entities,” as further reasons to dismiss Cohen’s petition to ban him from the court.
He summarizes his plea with this description of Cohen’s motivations:
“In sum, it is difficult to conclude that Mr. Cohen’s filing is anything but a highly improper attempt to soil Mr. Avenatti and unnecessarily lure and entangle this Court into Mr. Cohen’s elaborate campaign to now discredit Mr. Avenatti.”
With pro hac vice admissions made at the discretion of the judge presiding over the case in question, we will have to wait to see how the judge rules on Cohen’s petition now that Avenatti has responded, but reading his response, it’s difficult to see how Cohen’s evasive strategy will work.
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