Who said law was boring? In the trial of shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem in Tampa, an attorney has alleged that he was set up by the opposing law firm in a DUI arrest in the midst of the high-profile trial. The story has everything: an obnoxious defendant, a castrated pig, an attractive young female legal assistant, a missing briefcase filled with trial papers, and a double set-up plot. It is a DUI version of Anatomy of a Murder except the James Stewart never finishes the trial because he is found in a car inebriated with Lee Remick.
You will have to sit down for these details because this gets a bit complex.
The case started when Clem was arrested for one of his disgusting on-air stunts — this one involving the castration of a boar. Clem was eventually acquitted on the charges but went on-air to accuse the wife of a rival radio host Todd “MJ” Schnitt of setting him up. The wife is former Assistant State Attorney Michelle Schnitt. That put the Schnitts in a snit and they filed a defamation action.
At the high-profile defamation trial, the Schnitts were represented by C. Philip Campbell. After one day of the trial proceedings, Campbell went to Malio’s Prime Steakhouse (think of the Thunder Bay Inn in Anatomy of a Murder). There he and another lawyer struck up a conversation with an attractive woman, who introduced herself only as Melissa and said that she worked as a paralegal at a corporate law firm. It turns out that she was Melissa Personius, a paralegal for Adams & Diaco representing the Love Sponge.
After a few drinks, it appears that Personius asked Campbell to move her car. However, an attorney at Adams & Diaco, Adam Filthaut, had called his son’s godfather (who is a sergeant with the local police) and told him to go to the bar because there was a guy who was known to drive drunk. Sergeant Fernandez arrived and staked out the location. He then saw Campbell drive the car and make an illegal turn. He then arrested Campbell on DUI. The lawyer had one prior DUI on his record. Remember, he was driving Personius’ car and now his briefcase filled with confidential papers was in her backseat. That briefcase then disappeared and ended up at, you guessed it, the law firm of Adams & Diaco (which insists that it did not open the briefcase). Eventually, it was returned to Campbell’s law firm.
Schnitts’ counsel demanded a mistrial and said that this was nothing short of a honey trap, but Judge James D. Arnold refused. This was a bit surprising given the testimony or lack of testimony in the case. When asked if she set up Campbell, Personius invoked the Fifth Amendment to protect herself from self-incrimination. It also seems a bit odd that this was the car of the paralegal and another opposing lawyer dropped the dime on Campbell.
Love Sponge lawyer Joseph Diaco insisted that the trial must go on because “They’ve implied what they think happened. There’s no evidence that anybody set anyone up.” True, though the circumstantial evidence is pretty breathtaking. Moreover, Diaco’s brother, lawyer Stephen Diaco, appeared in court with two attorneys, including a criminal defense lawyer, and would only answer questions about the briefcase. The criminal defense lawyer said that he would also invoke his fifth amendment rights if asked about the alleged set up with the police.
I fail to see on this evidence why this matter was not sent for investigation by the State bar and possible criminal investigation. I certainly do not see how you can proceed with the trial after such testimony. What do you think?
For his part, Bubba the Love Sponge Clem has complained that the case had become “like a ‘South Park’ episode and I’m, quite frankly, getting a little tired of it.” Frankly, this is a lot better than your show, Love Sponge.