A Tampa Bay, Fla., judge has denied a motion for a mistrial in a civil defamation case between two of the biggest radio names in the region after an attorney representing one of the DJs ended up behind bars for alleged DUI, in what his legal team called 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."
Campbell spent the night in a Hillsborough County jail before posting $500 bond and being released Thursday morning. It's unclear whether he has entered a plea.
As of today, both sides had sought a declaration of a mistrial. Schnitt's attorneys asked for a mistrial Friday on the grounds that the jury might have been influenced by the publicity of Campbell's arrest. This morning, Clem's attorney also cited the amount of coverage of the arrest in seeking a mistrial, ABC affiliate WFTS-TV reported.
The judge hearing the case denied the requests.
"Clem has to bear the risk," an attorney from Clem's team told WFTS. "We believe that there is no way to have a fair trial. It is the number one story in this community and has now made national news. This [bringing up the arrrest in court] was done on purpose by the plaintiffs to declare a mistrial if they don't like the verdict."
Clem's attorneys requested that the jury be polled by the judge regarding the news surrounding Campbell. Testimony resumed before 11 a.m. today at the trial, which entered its third week today.
Police testified in court Friday that a member of Clem's defense team called them to have Campbell arrested for DUI.
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 said Friday that there is no need for a mistrial in the case, which 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 of the setup allegation.
An attorney on Campbell's side suggested it all would be hammered out in court.
"We have a high level of respect for the judicial system, and believe it's in the best interest of all parties to address any issues related to this case in the courtroom," J. Todd Timmerman, a partner at Campbell's firm, told ABC News.
While leaving the court 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."