Fool For a Client: Michael Avenatti Sentencing Post-Mortem


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Let’s call this part-two of our long days journey into the night of several recent high profile federal setnencings.  Continuing our conversation from last week (Sunny Bulwani), we dig in to the sentencing of the very public and tragic fall of attorney Michael Avenatti.  We did most of the stats in last week’s episode, but this week (see links below).

In today’s episode, we first focus on some statistical missed opportunities, particularly when it come to life expectancy.Tnen, we really dig in on the narrative shortcomings of Avenatti’s sentencing presentation. Avenatti did himself no favors when, acting as his own attorney, he plead guilty without any agreements in the last of his three federal cases.

Although statistically he came out all right, in practical terms, this man is likely to spend the rest of his life in a prison cell.

Today we make the case that Avenatti’s failure to put forth any coherent and credible narrative to help the judge understand why he did what he did, what he is going to do to make it right, and why it will never happen again, sealed his own fate at sentencing.


  • What it means to do an “open plea”;
  • How making an unreasonable sentencing request risks removing you from the conversation;
  • Comparing Avenatti’s fraud sentences to those sentenced for murder and kidnapping, and recidivist child porn offenses;
  • Judges can and do request sentencing statistics from the US sentencing commission, but you might not know it;
  • Examining and critiquing the sentencing memos for narrative, style, and strategy;
  • The mishap with Avenatti’s Residential Drug & Alcohol Program (RDAP) request;
  • Another bummer example of what happens when we ignore the all-important life-expectancy statistics;
  • Putting pictures in pleadings; they go in the body of your memo, not in the back as exhibits;
  • Avenatti’s giant, missed opportunity to create context and connection with well-told, credible revelation and redemption stories.


Last episode:  We began this conversation in EP. #32 (Sunny Balwani Sentencing Post Mortem) by doing a thorough, comparative statistical analysis of Avenatti’s sentencing with Holmes, Bulwani and the Chrisleys (reality star fraudsters).  If you haven’t heard the first 20 or so minutes of that episode, it’s most certainly pertinent to today’s discussion on Avenatti.   Check it out, along with Mark’s awesome graphs and charts at:  or on YOUTUBE:

A couple months back, we gave Elizabeth Holmes the same treatment.  You can listen or watch that episode (Sentencing Post-Mortem Podcast) here:  or on YOUTUBE:

ABT Book!  When analyzing the defense memo, we see the ABT at work, clearly defining the problem the judge needs to address (“the But”).  The book is 7 bucks on amazon if you want to learn more.  If you’re not up for buying the book, here’s a short blog post on it:

Patterson study: Avenatti missed it. Holmes & Balwani missed it.  So did the Chrisley’s.  Life expectancy could make a huge impact at sentencing.  And remember the Patterson study to make sure you’re getting accurate numbers!

MARK’s CHARTS:  visit to see some more of Mark Allenbaugh’s visual aids concerning relevant statistical issues in the case.

3 RS:  Here we again analyze the defense mitigation presentation through the lens of the “3Rs” of Sentencing Narrative.  Avenatti missed the boat on all of them, but especialy REVELATION and REDEMPTION.  If you’d like to learn more about the 3Rs,3Rs Article (DOWNLOAD FOR FREE) by clicking this button:

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