MJ vs. Bubba the Love Sponge trial: Both sides rest their case

5:39 PM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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Todd "M.J." Schnitt (left) and Bubba "The Love Sponge" Clem (right) appear in a Hillsborough courtroom. Schnitt has filed a defamation lawsuit, saying Clem made offensive comments about him and his wife.


Tampa, Florida -- Both sides have rested their cases in the Todd "MJ Kelly" Schnitt vs. Bubba the Love Sponge Clem defamation trial.

Jurors heard testimony from a pair of witnesses before being sent home, with closing arguments expected Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday lawyers on both sides asked for summary judgment in their favor today. Neither got it.

Bubba's lawyers argue that Todd Schnitt and his wife Michelle simply have not proven defamation, and based that in large part on one of the witnesses who took the stand Tuesday.

Local radio listeners probably know Kimberly Collelo better by the name Jabber-jaw. Having worked for both MJ and Bubba's radio shows, her testimony could lay the foundation for a big part of Bubba's defense.

The basis for his on-air accusations of MJ fixing ratings, and plugging products and services seemed to come from Collelo and information known uniquely to her.

Follow 10 News Reporter Eric Glasser on twitter @ericglassertv

Collelo testified that while working as MJ's assistant, she believed he had gotten free goods and services in exchange for on-air mentions.

She would regularly run personal errands for him, she testified, and he would supply her with his personal credit card.

But in some cases, said Collelo, "No money was exchanged, no."

She gave examples of a computer store, a landscaper, even an automobile maker. Often, she said, after mentioning the businesses by name, Schnitt would ask her to make a copy of the audio from the show.

"I believed that he was plugging them and not paying for the services," said Collelo.

MJ's lawyers then grilled "Jabber-jaw" on the lack of any real basis for those comments. But perhaps most telling was a question the jury had for her.

"If you thought that was being done, why didn't you report it?" the judge read.

"I really don't know," she answered, "I mean, he was the most powerful man in the building," said Collelo, speaking about Schnitt.

After a brief rebuttal from one final witness, testimony in the case, which has now entered its third week, finally ended.

With both sides resting, the jury was sent home for the day.

Outside their purview, Bubba's attorneys asked the judge to throw out the case, saying the testimony had not risen to the legal standard of defamation.

"It may be offensive. It may be offensive to me as his attorney," said Greg Hearing, Bubba's Lawyer, "But that's not the standard. The standard is whether it's defamation and it's protected speech under the first amendment."

The Schnitts' lawyers also asked the judge for an on-the-spot ruling... in their favor.

Legally, they argued, Bubba Clem had an obligation to at least try to find out if Collelo's accusations were true before simply airing them and attributing them to her.

"What we have is hatred. We have ill intent. We have his own words that he's trying to seek revenge against the Schnitts. He wants Mr. Schnitt to die," said Schnitt's lawyer Mindi Richter, "I don't think we have any good faith basis for any of the comments that he's made about the Schnitts."

The judge appeared ready to let this go to the jury. He said he wanted to meet with the lawyers to go over the juror instructions and a few other housekeeping matters.

He then told everybody to be back in court Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. for what will presumably be closing arguments.

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