Judge Rejects Michael Cohen’s Request To Muzzle Michael Avenatti, Says Gag Order Would ‘Chill First Amendment’

Judge Otero said that the Constitution is not a 'trick or an illusion.'

Stormy Daniels and attorney Michael Avenatti are seen at The Abbey on May 23, 2018 in West Hollywood, California
Tara Ziemba / Getty Images

Judge Otero said that the Constitution is not a 'trick or an illusion.'

A U.S. District Judge has decided that he won’t be muzzling Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, despite former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s request, as it would be going against the First Amendment.

The New York Daily News is reporting that Judge S. James Otero acknowledged that Avenatti had used some choice words for Cohen, calling him a “moron” and a “screw-up,” but that wasn’t enough to have him issue a gag order. Otero says he has to lean toward respecting Avenatti’s freedom of speech.

“The irony of all this does not escape me,” the judge said after Michael Avenatti pointed out that Donald Trump and his current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had also publicly spoken ill of Cohen.

“My court has to make sure it doesn’t make an order that chills First Amendment rights going forward. That’s the most sacred of rights.”

But Michael Cohen’s lawyer, Brent Blakely, said that Avenatti’s smack talk about Cohen has been over the top, and it could prevent his client from getting a fair trial. Blakely is also concerned that this could affect his ability to seat a jury who doesn’t already have preconceived ideas about Michael Cohen.

Blakely tried to convince the judge that if he didn’t gag Avenatti, the harm to his client could be irreparable.

“If there’s an expedited trial with (Daniels) asking for jurors, those jurors (could be) the people going up to my client on the street and saying, ‘You’re a horrible person. You’re going to jail for the rest of your life.'”

The judge then had a lecture for Blakely, suggesting that Cohen’s lawyer really didn’t appreciate the significance of what he was asking, and added that Blakely should not have chided Avenatti by saying that the lawyer for Daniels was like a “small-town carnival magician” who attempts to confuse people by “pulling the First Amendment out of his tiny bag of tricks.”

Otero said that Blakely should not joke about the First Amendment suggesting it is a parlor trick.

“The Constitution is the highest law of the land. It’s neither a trick nor an illusion.”

And at the same hearing, Michael Avenatti’s argument was heard, in which he said that if the judge decided to gag him in talking about Cohen, then he would have to also gag Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who referred to Michael Cohen as a “pathological liar” recently after praising him in the past.

Outside the courthouse, Michael Avenatti spoke out and says he’s not going to stop talking and tweeting about the case. He also shared his thoughts about the legal skills of Rudy Giuliani.

“This guy is an absolute train wreck of a lawyer. In fact, I think he’s the best lawyer that we have working for us in the case.”