Disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti has filed a motion for a mistrial in the United States District Court for the Central District of California following claims that nine government witnesses have violated their obligations under the Jencks Act and Rule 26.2.
The Jencks Act and Rule 26.2 require the government to produce all witness statements following the conclusion of their direct examination, including but not limited to handwritten and typed notes of witness interviews, audio and video recordings of the witness, and letters, text messages and emails from the witness.
The filing alleges that several of the witnesses "testified under oath that they engaged in text message and/or e-mail correspondence with the government about this case" and that they "met with members of the prosecution team and made statements about this case that were not produced" prior to Avenatti's cross-examination.
"Mr. Avenatti was entitled to production of every statement for every witness as required by the Jencks Act and Rule 26.2 and he was entitled to receive such materials before he began his cross-examination," the filing states. "Having failed to produce the materials as required, and having repeatedly violated Mr. Avenatti’s right to due process, the government must now suffer the consequences outlined in the Act and the rule."
If the court is unable to declare a mistrial, Avenatti is requesting that the court strike the testimony of the nine witnesses. He is also asking for the court to hold an immediate evidentiary hearing regarding the text messages, email correspondence, and handwritten notes and to take sworn testimony outside of the presence of the jury.
Avenatti faces a slew of charges, including 10 counts of wire fraud that each carry a 20-year prison term, for allegedly scamming clients out of millions of dollars in settlement money. A judge approved Avenatti's request to defend himself in the case last month.
Avenatti has already been sentenced to more than two years in federal prison for attempting to extort sports apparel giant Nike for as much as $25 million. In addition, he will soon face another upcoming trial in New York regarding allegations that he siphoned money from his ex-client, former adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Fox Business' Thomas Barrabi and Ross Lee contributed to this report.