The legal team backing Michael Avenatti has requested that his trial against Stormy Daniels, the former porn star, be postponed by 2 weeks as the mask mandate violated their client’s statutory rights to face witnesses.
Stormy has accused Michael Avenatti of $300,000 as an advance on a book detailing her affair with President Trump. The opening statements are scheduled for Monday, but the porn star will not testify before Tuesday.
Michael Avenatti’s team argued that as the witnesses present at the trial will remain masked throughout the testimony, it would violate his right to a fair trial under the Sixth Amendment.
The legal team said that Avenatti was seeking a 2-weeks adjournment immediately to February 7. The court had set the original date in November.
The Confrontational Clause in the 6th Amendment states that criminal suspects have the right to confront their witnesses. The Confrontational Clause was originally intended to avert a defendant’s conviction on written evidence, without presenting the defendant from facing their accuser.
Michael Avenatti’s Attorneys Argued That Mask Mandate Would Infringe Their Client’s Constitutional Rights
Michael Avenatti’s team argued that the trial should not be allowed to ensue while witnesses were allowed to testify from behind masks. They said that it would hurt their client’s ability to confront and assess a witness’s sincerity through physical and direct interaction.
The argument was dismissed by Judge Jesse Furman. He said that the specter of a hypothetical situation doesn’t warrant any adjournment.
Judge Furman said that appropriate steps would be taken by the court in cases where the mandate was deemed to interfere with the ability of a witness to testify.
One of the attorneys representing Avenatti said that he was ready to go to trial if the judge was not convinced that the mask mandate would interfere with Avenatti’s rights. He said that they were just apprehensive about preserving the constitutional rights of their client.
The testimony by Stormy Daniel will be crucial for prosecutors in the federal court in Manhattan to prove that Michael Avenatti indulged in identity theft and wire fraud to keep his client from receiving money owed to her by her publisher.
Avenatti has protested his innocence. He said that the government was prosecuting him while they allow Trump and his followers to walk free without facing the consequences of their actions.