MJ vs Bubba shock jock trial slimes everyone who gets near it
It's the trial that has slimed everyone who gets near it.
When former shock jock Todd "MJ" Schnitt decided to take his defamation suit against rival radio star Bubba the Love Sponge Clem to trial, it seemed an even money bet on who might come out looking worse.
As testimony progressed, Schnitt talked about seeing his house splattered with raw eggs, getting confronted by fans in public and an incident in which he says he was nearly run off the road while driving on the Courtney Campbell Causeway.
As his lawyer dryly read emails filled with awful profanities, Schnitt insisted he could not remember a time before Clem's on air attacks against him when listeners treated him that way.
Members of Clem's show took the stand to admit that there may have been times when they told listeners they were investigating issues related to Schnitt and they were not, or indicated they had unrevealed evidence Schnitt had done something wrong and didn't really have it. In depositions, Schnitt also admitted his MJ Morning Show indulged similar tricks, conducting prank call segments where someone employed by his show pretended to be an innocent victim called by the host pretending to be a clueless old man.
Both sides called it "theater of the mind." But listeners might feel misled.
Now lawyers for Schnitt are saying attorneys for Clem engineered a situation where Schnitt's lead attorney Philip Campbell was arrested for DUI Wednesday. Campbell had been having drinks with a woman he did not know was a paralegal at the firm representing Clem and was arrested for DUI when she asked him to move her car, according to Schnitt's attorneys. After he was arrested, his briefcase containing key documents outlining their strategy remained in the possession of the paralegal, 30-year-old Melissa Personius.
Attorneys for Clem strenuously denied the allegations, saying Campbell's briefcase was never opened and remained in their possession for about three hours.
After testimony today in which the paralegal cited her fifth amendment right against self-incrimination when asked her cell phone number and cellphone carrier and an attorney at the firm representing Clem, Stephen Diaco, didn't have his cellphone and said he didn't remember who his carrier was, the trial judge reserved judgment on the mistrial request.
That means, if Schnitt's attorneys should happen to lose the trial, the judge can still declare a mistrial and start the whole circus over again.
In the process attorneys for all sides have become part of the trial in unexpected, embarrassing ways. The controversy also provided a potent argument against some who complained about the local news coverage of the trial, in which many local news outlets offer streaming video of the entire proceedings.
Testimony is set to resume Monday, leaving open the question of who might get slimed next.