A federal judge in Los Angeles on Wednesday declined to lift a 90-day stay of Stephanie Clifford’s ongoing civil suit against President Donald Trump and his embattled fixer Michael Cohen.
U.S. District Judge James Otero imposed the 90-day stay on April 27, after federal investigators raided Cohen’s home and law offices on April 9.
Clifford, who appears in pornographic films under the name “Stormy Daniels,” asked Otero to reconsider the April order after Trump and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, made comments concerning the scope of the Cohen investigation.
Civil suits are often put on hold when they overlap with an ongoing criminal matter. Defendants often cannot respond to civil claims without incriminating themselves, which seriously compromises their criminal defense.
Clifford attorney Michael Avenatti said the statements proved the case could proceed without violating Cohen’s Fifth Amendment rights.
But Otero disagreed, finding the comments were not different from other vague comments Trump and Giuliani have made about the case. Taken together, none of them are substantive enough to bear on Clifford’s case. (RELATED: With Avenatti In The Spotlight, His Own Questionable Past Emerges)
“These statements are not markedly different from the previous claims of falsity or damage that the court considered in its [April] ruling,” the judge explained.
The judge gently chided Avenatti for abusing judicial procedural to advance the case.
“In closing, the court again counsels against the unjustified use of ‘extraordinary’ procedural mechanisms to advance the case,” he wrote. “Absent a compelling showing of good cause, the court will not permit the parties to displace other litigants or violate the court’s rules.”
Avenatti sought to intervene in an ongoing dispute over the April 9 raid of Cohen’s properties. Cohen is challenging the search at a federal court in New York. Avenatti subsequently withdrew his request after U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood criticized his conduct.
Otero’s decision may be appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
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