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Supreme Court rejects appeal of Michael Avenatti’s extortion conviction

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Disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti’s appeal to the Supreme Court regarding his extortion conviction has been rejected. Avenatti, well-known for representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels, was sentenced to a 30-month prison term for demanding over $20 million from Nike to prevent him from going public with allegations of illicit payments to amateur basketball players. Avenatti argued that his conviction for “honest services fraud” was based on a vague law that shouldn’t apply to lawyers making settlement demands.

In his appeal, Avenatti contended that the crime of honest services fraud is unclear, especially when applied to non-public officials. He received some support from conservative Supreme Court Justices, including Justice Neil Gorsuch, who expressed concerns about the application of the charge in the private sector. Avenatti cited Gorsuch’s opinion in his appeal and called for the Supreme Court to overturn the law. The Biden administration, however, argued that Avenatti’s actions clearly violated the law and that his appeal was inconsistent with prior Supreme Court rulings.

Avenatti also argued against the application of criminal extortion charges to attorneys making settlement demands. The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York refused to overturn Avenatti’s conviction, leading to the Supreme Court’s decision to decline his appeal. Conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh recused himself from considering the appeal without providing an explanation for his decision. The legal battle surrounding Avenatti’s conviction for extortion continues to raise questions about the clarity and scope of the honest services fraud law.

Overall, Avenatti’s appeal to the Supreme Court regarding his extortion conviction has been denied. The attorney argued that the law against honest services fraud was unclear and should not apply to lawyers making settlement demands. Despite receiving some support from conservative Justices, Avenatti’s conviction was upheld by lower courts, including the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. The Biden administration opposed Avenatti’s appeal, maintaining that his conduct fell within the scope of the law and prior Supreme Court precedent.

The debate over the application of criminal charges to attorneys demanding settlements continues to raise concerns surrounding honest services fraud. Conservative Justices, including Neil Gorsuch, expressed reservations about the application of the charge to private individuals with fiduciary responsibilities. Avenatti’s case highlights the ongoing challenges in interpreting and enforcing laws related to corruption and extortion. The Supreme Court’s decision to reject his appeal further solidifies the legal precedent surrounding the prosecution of individuals, including lawyers, for engaging in fraudulent activities.

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