(TAMPA BAY, Fla.) — A civil defamation case between two of the biggest radio names in the Tampa Bay, Fla., area took an odd turn last week when an attorney representing one of the DJs ended up behind bars for an alleged DUI, in what his legal team calls a setup.
Charles Campbell, the lead attorney representing radio personality Todd “MJ” Schnitt in his case against Bubba “The Love Sponge” Clem, was arrested Wednesday night outside Malio’s Prime Steakhouse in Tampa. At the restaurant and bar, he had met a paralegal named Melissa Personius, who works for Clem’s legal team.
John Ellis, a member of Schnitt’s legal team, says that Personius tricked Campbell into getting arrested.
“She lied to Mr. Campbell, or me, when we asked her where she worked,” he said. “She bought him drinks. She specifically, we believe, asked him to move her car.”
It’s unclear whether Campbell has entered a plea.
Police testified in court Friday that a member of Clem’s defense team called them to have Campbell arrested for DUI. Schnitt’s attorneys have asked for a mistrial on the grounds that the jury might have been influenced by the publicity of Campbell’s arrest.
“I don’t expect him to declare a mistrial,” legal expert Kevin Hayslett told ABC News. “I expect the show to go on, if you will. But obviously the criminal arrest of lead council for the plaintiff has a dramatic effect.”
Schnitt’s lawyers say Clem’s attorneys could have gotten a legal advantage because Campbell left his briefcase with important documents in the paralegal’s car.
Personius said in court Friday that she had not opened the briefcase while it was in her possession. She invoked her right to remain silent several times while on the stand, including when she was asked whether she was sent to the bar by her firm.
Clem’s attorney says there is no need for a mistrial in the case that centers around allegedly offensive and defamatory comments Clem made about Schnitt and his wife.
“I ask for a retraction of that, because he [Schnitt’s attorney] knows he has no evidence to suggest that my law firm or I have any involvement in this,” he said.
The trial was set to enter its third week on Monday.
The judge decided on Friday that more time was needed for research before ruling on the mistrial request. While leaving the court on Friday, Clem expressed his disappointment in the turn of events.
“It’s like a South Park episode,” he said. “Quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of it.”
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Chris Boyette, CNN
Marilia Brocchetto, Tim Hume and Claire Rigby, CNN
Matt Egan, CNN