Tampa, Florida - Conspiracy, a set-up, calls for a mistrial, and attorney careers on the line - what happened in a Tampa courtroom Friday had the makings for a fictional TV drama. But this is real life and a judge is trying to find out exactly how much is true.
The morning started out with a bombshell, when an attorney for Todd MJ Schnitt accused Bubba the Love Sponge Clem's legal team of orchestrating Wednesday's DUI arrest of Schnitt attorney Phil Campbell.
Attorney Jonathan Ellis was with Campbell at Malio's on Wednesday. Ellis says a paralegal for the firm Adams & Diaco (hired by Clem) bought Campbell drinks, asked him to move her car, and that then someone from the firm called a Tampa police officer.
And it doesn't stop with the DUI. Campbell left his trial briefcase in the car belonging to paralegal Melissa Personius. And that means Bubba's team at least had access to the Schnitt team's legal strategy.
"It's a farce, it's wrong and we're requesting a mistrial," Ellis told Judge James Arnold.
But Bubba's primary attorney, Joseph Diaco, bristled at the accusation. "Very serious allegation of a set-up; no one forced Campbell to drink," said Diaco.
However, the judge wanted to hear more and held a hearing on the mistrial motion Friday afternoon.
During that hearing Personius was called to testify. While she answered some questions, the 30-year-old also invoked her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.
One of her bosses, Attorney Stephen Diaco, also took the 5th several times under questioning.
It remains unclear whether anyone from the Diaco legal team opened Campbell's briefcase.
However, a Tampa police officer did fill in some blanks. Sgt. Ray Fernandez says he was tipped off by another lawyer from Adams & Diaco that someone leaving Malio's, in a specific car, was driving drunk.
Judge Arnold says he wants to do more research on the mistrial motion before he rules. So for now, the defamation trial is scheduled to continue on Monday morning.
Previous stories on the MJ vs. Bubba the Love Sponge Trial:
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