Attorneys for a popular Tampa radio personality, Bubba the Love Sponge (Todd Clem), have been disciplined for their involvement in the wrongful arrest of an opposing counsel according to a report received by Historic City News from The Florida Bar today.
The victim, Tampa attorney Charles Philip Campbell Jr., was representing a competing Tampa radio personality, M. J. Kelly (Todd Schnitt), who unsuccessfully alleged that “Bubba’s” verbal pestering, criticism, and scores of comical radio parodies, were not confined to banter between the two rival morning drive shock-jocks. “M.J.” alleged, but failed to prove in court, that “Bubba” provoked his listeners, known as the “Bubba Army”, to stalk and terrorize Schnitt, and his wife Michelle, in real life and off the air. Schnitt sought financial compensation from Clem for what he said amounted to defamation.
During the trial, Campbell was arrested for driving under the influence as he attempted to leave the parking lot of a nearby cocktail lounge. Campbell accused a legal assistant in Clem’s camp, Melissa Personius, of trapping him into buying too many drinks, insuring that he would be arrested when he left. Campbell said Clem and his attorneys arranged for the policeman to be waiting outside to make the arrest.
Although Campbell lost Schnitt’s civil case against Clem, attorney Adam Robert Filthaut, with the Adams Diaco Law Firm, has been suspended until further order, effective February 11th, following a January 15th court order for his role in the incident. Filthaut was admitted to practice law in Florida in 2000.
Most shocking, however, is that Clem’s lead attorney, Stephen Christopher Diaco, has been permanently disbarred; retroactively to January 22nd, following a January 28th court order. Diaco was admitted to practice in 1994.
The court reported that Diaco, and two lawyer colleagues, intentionally targeted and caused the wrongful arrest of an opposing counsel (Campbell) in a high-profile case for the benefit of themselves and their client.
Disbarred lawyers may not re-apply for admission for five years. They are required to go through an extensive process that rejects many who apply. It includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam. Historically, fewer than 5 percent of disbarred lawyers seek readmission.
The Florida Bar serves as the state’s guardian for the integrity of the legal profession. As an official arm of the Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar and its Department of Lawyer Regulation are charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for the 102,000-plus lawyers admitted to practice law in Florida.