The judge overseeing the Todd 'MJ' Schnitt vs Bubba Clem defamation trial must now decide whether to declare a mistrial.
Schnitt's legal team demanded the retrial Friday, claiming Bubba's legal team orchestrated the DUI arrest of Schnitt attorney Phil Campbell. The allegation sidelined the defamation case as the judge sent the jury home Friday afternoon. He then ordered a mini-trial over the DUI claim.
Schnitt's legal team claims that Campbell was set up by Melissa Personius, an employee of the law firm representing Schnitt's rival, Bubba 'the Love Sponge' Clem. They say Campbell went to Malio's in downtown Tampa Wednesday night, where he met Personius. They claim that Personius did not disclose that she works for the law firm that represents Bubba.
They say after having several drinks, Pesonius asked Campbell to move her car. They believe she or someone close to her then called police, directing them to Campbell, who was arrested for DUI.
On the witness stand Friday, Personius testified that she did not tell Campbell where she worked. She then pleaded the 5th when asked if she knew Campbell was the lead counsel for Schnitt.
Reacting to the controversy Friday, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor released a statement saying, "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."
Schnitt's legal team says the publicity surrounding the arrest has created an atmosphere in which Todd Schnitt is unable to receive a fair hearing against Bubba, who he accuses of defamation.
The judge said he would wait to decide on whether to declare a mistrial. He ordered everyone back to court Monday morning at 9 a.m.
(WARNING: Video clip of Michelle Schnitt's testimony does contain strong language)
FOX 13's Gloria Gomez is tweeting updates from the trial. You can follow her @ggome13.
From your computer, you can watch a live video feed of the trial here: http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/category/235312/live-video
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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