The Schnitt versus Bubba the Love Sponge defamation trial took a bizarre and somewhat worrying twist on Friday morning. Prior to the testimony resuming, a rather agitated member of the Schnitt's defense team demanded a mistrial.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, members of the Schnitts legal team accused Mr Clem's attorneys of orchestrating the DUI arrest of Philip Campbell and had access to Mr Campbell's trial bag for nearly 20 hours. They alleged that a paralegal working for Adams and Diaco, who represent Mr Clem, had drinks with Mr Campbell, asked him to move her car, and she or someone else called the Tampa PD to report Mr Campbell.
The judge ordered the relevant parties to appear in the court at 1:30pm. He also ordered that the jury be polled as to any knowledge they had of Mr Campbell's arrest for DUI.
After polling the jury, the judge decided to allow the case to continue and Mrs Schnitt took the stand, questioned my Mr Campbell. He took her through many of the incidents her husband had mentioned, and played her the now infamous "whore" clip. When recounting the various events, Mrs Schnitt took the opportunity to relay to the jury that she had been called a whore on each occasion, During her cross examination, Mr Hearing, representing Mr Clem, noted that she had not made reference to being called a whore during her depositions a year ago. Mrs Schnitt stated that her recollection now was that she had been called a whore. It is worth noting that Mr Schnitt, during his testimony as to what was shouted during the times they were allegedly accosted, did not mention the word whore being used on each occasion.
What was anticipated to be some of the explosive testimony of the this trial turned out to be somewhat of a damp squib, overshadowed by events outside the court.
Proceedings in the defamation trial were suspended for the day after Mrs Schnitt's testimony, but a hearing was arranged with regard the motion for a mistrial.
Later in the afternoon, both sets of legal counsel were back in the courtroom before the judge and the paralegal for Adams and Diaco was called to the court. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Melissa Personius invoked her 5th amendment rights when asked about the evening she had drinks with Mr Campbell. She did so when asked if her boss at the law firm of Adams and Diaco had instructed her to get Mr Campbell drunk, and again when asked if she had been told to get Mr Campbell to drive her car.
Ms Personius stated that she had found Mr Campbells bag in her car at 3pm the following day and that she had called her boss Mr Robert Adams. She reported that he told her not to touch the bag. Shortly thereafter, another attorney from Adams and Diaco arrived and took the bag. Within an hour he was back with the bag, accompanied by Mr Stephen Diaco, who told her to take a cab and return the bag to Mr Campbell's law firm.
Mr Diaco was called to the hearing and recounted the same set of events. He said that he had not instructed Ms Personius to get Mr Campbell drunk, but asserted his 5th amendment rights when asked if he had instructed anyone to call Tampa PD about Mr Campbell driving drunk. Mr Diaco stated that they had returned the bag to Mr Campbell's law firm as soon as possible and when they realized it was the trial bag, decided that Ms Personius should return it. He asserted that the bag had never been open.
The officer who arrested Mr Campbell was called and stated that he had received the tip from a friend who works for Adams and Diaco. He mentioned that he had had a similar call a month ago from the same friend.
The judge did not make a ruling on the mistrial motion, and the defamation trial is expected to resume on Monday at 9am.