Judge to wait to make ruling on mistrial in radio DJ defamation trial

By Erin Maloney, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013, 10:51 PM EST

The judge in the MJ-Bubba the Love Sponge Clem defamation lawsuit trial will wait to make a ruling on the mistrial.

The jury was sent home early Friday, though the drama in the courtroom continued.

Judge James Arnold took up a number of issues Friday afternoon stemming from MJ attorney Charles Philip Campbell's Wednesday night DUI arrest.

Todd "MJ" Schnitt's team hinted that Campbell's DUI was a setup - that Melissa Personius, a paralegal for Clem attorney Stephen Diaco met up with Campbell Wednesday evening, bought him drinks and then asked him to move her car.

The attorneys claim that’s when Campbell was arrested on DUI by the Tampa Police Department.

When that happened, MJ's legal team claims Campbell left his trial bag, which contained important, confidential documents, in Personius' car. He had no idea that Personius was a paralegal for Diaco's law firm.

Paralegal, Clem attorney, arresting officer take stand

Diaco and Personius took the stand Friday afternoon.

"No one forced Mr. Campbell to drink.  No one forced him to get into a car.  And no one forced him to get into a car and drive," Diaco said.

Diaco pleaded the Fifth Amendment when asked if his staff called the Tampa Police Department in the last 48 hours. Personius also took the Fifth Amendment when asked if Diaco instructed her to meet Campbell that night.

Under the Fifth Amendment, a person who is testifying in a trial cannot be compelled to answer questions that might implicate themselves in a crime.

Tampa Police Sgt. Ray Fernandez, who arrested Campbell, also took the stand. He testified he got call from a member of the Diaco law firm, asking him to check out a specific car (Campbell's).

Fernandez said he was informed on that phone call that Campbell had been drinking.

MJ and his wife dodged the cameras but as for Bubba, he said he’s ready for this entire ordeal to be over.

"It's like a South Park episode and I quite frankly, am getting a little tired of it," he said.

Testimony will continue on Monday.  As for the jury, they say they are not influenced by all of the media exposure.

Tampa Police isn’t commenting on the case, but Chief Jane Castor did say in a statement: "It is unfortunate that the Tampa Police Department has been dragged into this circus. We stand behind our officer. He did what DUI officers do every day, and that is arrest impaired drivers.”

Day in court begins with mistrial request

The day started with Schnitt's attorneys asking for a mistrial.

Attorneys for both sides, along with Judge Arnold, discussed the trial and the events that have unfolded since Campbell's arrest. No mistrial was granted.

Clem's lawyers scoffed at such an idea the whole thing was a setup.

"This is an attempt to use Mr. Campbell's behavior to get a mistrial," Diaco said. "The moment before the most important witness."

Schnitt's wife takes the stand

Before jurors were sent home for the day, MJ's wife, Michelle Schnitt, took the stand Friday morning. She testified about Clem calling her a “whore” on the air.

"He meant to imply that I was sexually promiscuous," she said.

Attorney arrested for DUI on Wednesday

Campbell, Jr., 64, was taken into custody at 10 p.m. Wednesday by Tampa police after being stopped near Cass and Tampa streets. Officers say he had glassy eyes and smelled like alcohol.

He was booked into the Hillsborough County jail and released after posting $500 bond at 6 a.m. Thursday.

Schnitt is suing Clem and the BTLS Radio Network for what he said were "highly offensive, insulting or fighting words and defamatory statements" made in 2008 about him and his wife Michelle.