Jonathan Turley calls 2.5 year sentence of former law student Avenatti a 'tragedy of epic proportions'

“It’s a very sad moment,” Turley said. “This is really a tragedy of epic proportions. I’ve always said that Michael’s story was a modern Hercules tale. He is someone who just flew too close to the sun. This was one of the most talented law students I have ever encountered. I met him when he was working his way through law school. He did research for me, and he was very impressive. He was an extraordinarily gifted trial attorney.”


A Manhattan federal judge on Thursday sentenced Avenatti to two-and-a-half years in prison over his attempt to extort an estimated $ 25 million from Nike. The 50-year-old former CNN mainstay was convicted on charges of trying to extort the Beaverton, Oregon-based sportswear giant when he represented a Los Angeles youth basketball league organizer upset Nike had ended its league sponsorship.

Turley said Avenatti recognizes that he “lost control, and it looks like it’s playing back to him when he recounts it now.” 

“The only thing greater than his talent was his appetite,” Turley said. “He lost control of his life, sort of had this plunge. I’ve talked to him since his conviction and he is contrite … but It’s a tragedy. He’s looking at two more trials.”

” I know people often get great joy seeing figures like Avenatti fall from a great height. But this is a devastating blow not just for him but his family,” he added. 

“In the end, Michael went into court and said that he deserved to be punished, that he was guilty of a great misdeed here. He’s looking at two more trials in California involving fraud and his clients.”

Avenatti gained national prominence by making frequent appearances on CNN in 2018 and 2019 as liberal journalists courted him for information about adult film star Stormy Daniels, who he represented in a lawsuit against then-President Trump.

The cable news appearances and overnight stardom became “addictive,” Turley said.

“I think that this became addictive [but] the cable appearances really overwhelmed him. Before these appearances ever happened, his life was already falling apart. He had become in debt for millions of dollars. A debt that he couldn’t cover. What he’s being accused of in California is moving client funds around to cover costs and defrauding them.”

Turley said the 8-year jail time request by New York prosecutors is “absurd when you look at other cases.”

“This is devastation that is complete in every aspect of his life. I can’t imagine a more punitive process for anyone,” he said. 

” I have talked to him since his conviction, and you know, very few people will return his calls. This is someone who has fallen from a great height. You know, I think in the end, I hope as I told Michael that he is able to leave prison and find a way of a redemptive path. He has a lot of talent. I’d like to see him make something out of the remainder of his life.”


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