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Double Jeopardy Claim Leads To Indefinite Hold On Retrial In Michael Avenatti Case

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) -- The retrial of Michael Avenatti, who is most known for representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against former President Donald Trump, has been indefinitely put on hold based on an argument of double jeopardy.

Double jeopardy is a procedural defense that prevents someone from getting prosecuted twice for the same crime.

The decision was made on Friday by a federal judge in a Santa Ana court for the retrial that was initially set to be held on Nov. 2.

Currently, Avenatti is attempting to have his case thrown out.

Avenatti is charged with defrauding several clients of nearly $10 million in settlement funds.

A few months ago, he was also sentenced to 30 months in prison for trying to extort nearly $25 million from popular sports company Nike.

In California, Avenatti is facing a 36-count indictment, including charges of wire fraud and failing to file tax returns, eight counts of willful failure to collect and pay over-withheld taxes, two counts of bank fraud, three counts of a false declaration in bankruptcy, and one count each of aggravated identity theft and providing false testimony under oath in bankruptcy. The retrial would be only on the 10 counts of wire fraud, while the remainder of the case would be tried at a later date.

U.S. District Judge James V. Selna vacated the Nov. 2 trial date, saying the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is responsible.

Selna then declared a mistrial on Aug. 24 after reporting a failure to turn over bookkeeping evidence, which he presented as n oversight rather than an act of misconduct.

Avenatti argued in his appeal that he requested to retrieve bookkeeping evidence to prove that he did not defraud his clients, and said his pleas were ignored.

Avenatti said a retrial would violate his rights against double
jeopardy and for due process.

In response to Avenatti's argument that a retrial would violate double jeopardy, prosecutors said in court papers that Avenatti's motion was a "frivolous double-jeopardy argument to delay a retrial that he asked for" and that the appellate justices, which Selna said is responsible for the case, has no jurisdiction over the double jeopardy claim.

It's unclear if and when that retrial will be rescheduled.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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