It seemed to the public that January 30 brought closure in the battle between Tampa radio shock jocks, Todd "MJ" Schnitt and Bubba "The Love Sponge Clem". A jury found in favor of Bubba in the defamation suit, finding he did not defame MJ nor his wife Michelle, as they accused him of doing on his radio show.
Even though there was a verdict reached, there is now a new ripple.
Their attorney's are scheduled to head into a Hillsborough County Courtroom at 9:30 Friday morning to answer to allegations of misconduct during the two week trial. Among the motions expected during the hearing, contempt of court against Bubba's attorney, Joseph Diaco.
The court requested Diaco surrender his cell phone records after allegations that he and his law office set up Phil Campbell, lead council for MJ. Campbell was arrested and charged with DUI in downtown Tampa during the trial. The arrest led to disruption of the case and raised plenty of eyebrows as Campbell contends it possibly led to his client's loss in court. Campbell was driving a car that belonged to one of Diaco's legal assistants.
Tampa attorney Barry Cohen has tried some of the biggest cases in the Bay area and has practiced law for decades. We asked him to weigh in on this bizarre turn of events and what Judge James Arnold will be looking for during Friday's hearing.
"They're telling these lawyers you better preserve the evidence. Don't destroy your records. Don't destroy your cell phone records. Don't do anything that's going to stop us from getting to the truth," Cohen said.
Cohen said this case even stuns him.
"If it's true, it's the slimiest conduct that I've ever seen by a member of the bar," he said.
Cohen says Judge Arnold has several options when it comes to making a decision.
He could rule a mistrial disregarding the jury's verdict. If the judge finds misconduct, he has a few options including referring the case to the state or U.S. attorney's offices or holding the defendants in contempt.