MJ's attorney staying on case after DUI arrest | News
Tampa, Florida -- Court lasted just a few minutes Thursday before the judge presiding over Todd "MJ" Schnitt's defamation lawsuit against rival shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem sent everyone home.
Although no reason was given, it was likely because MJ's lead attorney, 64-year-old Phil Campbell, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence Wednesday night.
Following court Thursday, MJ chose to ignore reporters as they sought comment.
In a brief statement released by Campbell's law firm they called the arrest a "serious matter." But the statement seemed to indicate Campbell would continue representing MJ.
"We have a high level of respect for law enforcement and the legal process. However, this development has nothing to do with Mr. and Mrs. Schnitt or their current defamation trial. We will continue to advocate for Mr. and Mrs. Schnitt's rights and have the utmost confidence in Mr. Campbell and our entire legal team as they continue to provide high-level legal counsel in this case," the statement read.
Police records show Campbell was arrested shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday at Cass and Tampa Streets. An officer says Campbell violated the right of way of another vehicle and when he pulled him over Campbell appeared to have "red glassy eyes with a distinct odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath."
READ: Campbell's arrest report (PDF)
Campbell was later booked into the Hillsborough County Jail, before bonding out less than three hours before the start of court Thursday.
It's the second DUI arrest for Campbell in less than five years. In 2008 he was arrested before pleading no contest to the charge. He received 12 months probation, ordered to pay a $500 fine and perform community service in that case.
"His last DUI was almost twice the legal limit. He didn't learn his lesson so maybe this time will be. But I hope he gets help," said Stephen Diaco, one of Bubba's attorneys outside the courthouse Thursday.
"My partner and Greg Hearing were working on this trial last night. Phil didn't seem to be doing the same and now we're being penalized for it."
"Just a bump in the road for everybody, but I feel sorry for the jurors and the bailiffs that all have to come and I missed a day of work but it's a bump in the road for the parties and... everybody will figure it out," added Clem.
Steve Crawford, a former federal prosecutor says the arrest could be grounds for a mistrial. But he expects the judge to question MJ first thing Friday morning about whether he wants to retain Campbell as his council before moving on.
"The judge in his colloquial with the client will say, 'Do you understand that you have a right to a mistrial? Do you understand that you waiving that we're going to move forward? There will be no appeal of this because you are with knowledge and voluntarily agreeing to keep him as your lawyer?' If the judge asks the right questions -- and this is an experienced judge and he will -- then I don't think there will be an appellate issue," Crawford said.
Follow 10 News Reporter Preston Rudie on twitter @PrestonRudie
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