U.S. District Judge James Selna of the Central District of California declared a mistrial in Michael Avenatti’s wire fraud trial on Tuesday, Aug. 24, ruling that Avenatti was significantly prejudiced by the government’s failure to turn over certain evidence. This is recently discovered law firm financial data that could have been used in Avenatti’s defense. The judge said that the evidence was not withheld intentionally, and there was no conspiracy by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to deny Avenatti his rights. Even though the deprivation was accidental, Selna believed a mistrial was the appropriate remedy.
Avenatti gave a statement to the few press members attending his trial and those in the courthouse hallway. As Meghann Cuniff reported via her Twitter stream, the former lawyer, after thanking his legal counsel, said:
“Today is a great day for the rule of law in the United States of America.”
Before leaving the bench, the judge set a new trial date of Oct. 12
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.