TAMPA - The Todd MJ Schnitt vs Bubba civil case seems to have turned from being a "Shock Jock War," as it was dubbed, into an "Attorney Battle Royal" as the focus is no longer on the the two namesakes in the case, but rather their attorneys.
The MJ legal team has now filed for a "Motion for a New Trial." It is really just the written version of when they called for a mistrial in court back on January 25.
That call for a mistrial stemmed form the DUI arrest of MJ attorney Phil Campbell on January 23, in which, in court, in a raised voice, MJ attorney Jonathan Ellis declared before Judge James Arnold, "This thing was a set up by the Diaco firm and Mr. Hearing."
In this latest court filing by the MJ team, they spell out the connection between the Diaco's paralegal Melissa Personius drinking with MJ attorney Phil Campbell, that night, and then insisting that he drive her car only to be pulled over by Tampa Police, who, according to supervisor of the TPD DUI Squad, Sergeant Raymond Fernandez, was contacted by an attorney from the Diaco firm to look out for a man driving that vehicle. Which, along with the arrest, also led to Phil Campbell's briefcase ending up in Diaco's possession for a period of time.
So MJ's legal team really wants to know what the Diacos knew, and when they knew it? Specifically, Stephen Diaco, who took the stand on the January 25, and pled the fifth amendment at times.
I spoke to Stephen Diaco's attorney, Lee Gunn, about that issue and he said his client voluntarily took lie detector test to show that he had nothing to hide, and that he is willing to answer all questions the judge deems necessary now.
But what was released from the lie detector test was just two questions focusing on the briefcase and nothing on the alleged set-up. And when I asked if we could see all the results of Stephen Diaco's lie detector test, Gunn told me it would not be released because of personal privacy issues.
For his part, Greg Hearing, who represented Bubba along with Joseph Diaco, and who is now acting as a spokesperson, sees all this as a last desperate attempt by the MJ legal team to try and get a re-do on the case, even though it was found that the jury had no idea the DUI ever happened. Even so, as the discovery into what happened that night of the DUI continues, he has preserved all his phone records and believes the Diaco's, Joseph and Stephen, have done the same because if they did not, it could give the appearance that someone is trying to hide something if they are ever called for.
So it is looking as though if anything happens with this case, as in if a new trial is ordered, it will not be because of the trial itself, but because of all the extracurricular activities of the attorneys involved. In that, even though as stated earlier, the jury was not tainted in anyway by the events that surrounded the DUI of MJ's attorney, if the Judge finds that there was any egregious behavior on the part of the attorneys associated, or connected to this case, he can decide that there should be a do-over.