It was a surprise hearing in the MJ/Bubba trial -- the judge called both sides Monday morning and ordered them to his chambers.
Judge Arnold clearly seemed annoyed.
He told the attorneys, in 40 years practicing law and 20 years on the bench, he had never seen allegations of attorney misconduct rise to the level it had in this case.
He told them he was lifting the protective order on discovery. That means MJ's attorneys can now question people involved in the alleged DUI setup.
During the trial, one of MJ's attorneys, Phil Campbell, was arrested for DUI.
It became known he had drinks with a woman, Melissa Personius, who turned out to be a paralegal in the law firm representing Bubba.
Campbell was actually arrested in her car.
The next day, Personius found Campbell's trial briefcase in her trunk. The briefcase had all of his information on the case.
At the time, the judge said there wasn't enough evidence for a mistrial. Now that it's over, he's calling lawyers on both sides to the carpet. He wants to know who had that briefcase in their hands, and if anyone at the law firm representing Bubba looked in the briefcase or got any information from it that may have helped them at trial.
"One of the arguments, is that at the time the judge conducted this mini trial, this inquiry in the middle of the trial, he didn't have all the facts and all the evidence. There's phone records that will or could be retrieved other evidence that he didn't have at the time of the hearing," said attorney Anthony Rickman, who is not involved with the trial.
The judge cleared Bubba's attorneys Jay Diaco and Greg Hearing of any wrongdoing. But he has not ruled on anyone else at the law firm.
The judge says until he gets some answers, he will not rule on any motion for a new trial, or any request by Bubba to have MJ pay his legal and attorney fees.
MJ's attorneys would not say what their next step is. But clearly they will begin to subpoena those involved, including Melissa Personius and Stephen Diaco.
Bubba's attorney Greg Hearing said he understands the position the judge is in.
"I think he's right he's got to be the referee to make sure people played by the rules in his court. So I understand he wants to know exactly what happened and he has every right to find out," Hearing said.
The next step is for MJ's attorneys to begin sending subpoenas and begin questioning those involved.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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