Judge won't issue gag order for Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti

Porn actress Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti talks to the media outside of Los Angeles County Superior Court after a hearing in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 10, 2018. PlayAP
WATCH Avenatti says 'multiple tapes of Trump'; claims to know 'substance of some'

A federal judge has refused to issue a gag order against Stormy Daniels' always-outspoken lawyer in the California civil case pitting Daniels vs. President Donald Trump and Michael Cohen’s company, Essential Consultants, LLC, over the validity of a nondisclosure agreement.

Interested in Donald Trump?

Add Donald Trump as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Donald Trump news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Add Interest

U.S. District Judge S. James Otero declined to issue a gag order on Michael Avenatti, which had been sought by Cohen.

Cohen alleged that a restraining order was needed to put an end to Avenatti’s pervasive attacks that were allegedly impacting his right to a fair trial.

Otero notes in his order that the civil case is still in its early stages, and that a gag order at this stage “could last months” and would “almost certainly constitute an improper prior restraint” on Avenatti.

Michael Avenatti, the attorney for porn actress Stormy Daniels replies to questions by reporters during a news conference in front of the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Los Angeles on Friday, July 27, 2018.AP
Michael Avenatti, the attorney for porn actress Stormy Daniels replies to questions by reporters during a news conference in front of the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Los Angeles on Friday, July 27, 2018.

Though he ruled in Avenatti’s favor, Otero still managed to work in a few digs at his “incessant commentary” about issues related to the case.

“No person involved in this action has been more ubiquitous in the media than Michael Avenatti,” Otero wrote.

Otero wrote that he shares the concerns of Judge Kimba Wood -- who is overseeing the litigation in the Southern District of New York over the searches of Cohen’s New York properties -- about “the extent and manner of Mr. Avenatti’s publicity tour,” but Otero determined that he did not have the capacity to slap a gag order on Avenatti because of a possible prejudicial impact on Cohen in another federal district.

Porn actress Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti talks to the media outside of Los Angeles County Superior Court after a hearing in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 10, 2018. AP
Porn actress Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti talks to the media outside of Los Angeles County Superior Court after a hearing in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 10, 2018.

“It is clear that Mr. Cohen's worry is not about the effect of the publicity on this litigation,” Otero wrote, “but the effect of the publicity surrounding this action on the SDNY Action. While this is a valid concern, this Court does not have the constitutional authority to impose a gag order on an attorney due to the potential effect of his comments on a proceeding outside the Court's jurisdiction.”

Avenatti tweeted "We will not be silenced!" last Friday, prior to Tuesday's ruling.

Case on hold for at least 45 days

As to the question of where the litigation by Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, goes from here -- Otero picked the middle ground -- in deciding to extend the stay on the case for another 45 days.

Essential Consultants, Cohen and Trump had asked for another 90 days, while Avenatti had advocated for restarting the proceedings, at least in part, without delay.

The next court proceeding in the case is a scheduling conference on Sept. 10.

Comments