Sunday, July 22, 2018
News Roundup

Could Tampa's shock jock trial get any weirder?

I had come to think of Tampa's ongoing shock jock trial, Todd "MJ" Schnitt suing Bubba the Love Sponge Clem for defamation, pretty much like this:

Even at a circus, you can only take so many clowns.

The allegations seemed akin to complaining of getting splattered in a mutual mud fight. And a trial lasting weeks? For a case you could easily call Big Baby vs. Big Bully? With testimony that sounded like two 12-year-old boys trying to out-stupid each other, a pig slaughtered on air and a contest for which listener had the ugliest teeth?

Thanks, no, I thought. And also: That poor jury.

But just as things were getting dull in court and even the oft-repeated "whore" had lost its punch came a plot twist that would have made John Grisham say: Nah, too improbable:

One night after court this week, Schnitt's respected lawyer decides to take the edge off with a few drinks at a downtown bar and gets himself popped for DUI. And that's not even the twist!

Lawyers representing the aforementioned 64-year-old lawyer allege a raven-haired 30-year-old woman had slid onto the stool next to him, chatted him up, bought him drinks and asked him to move her car, which he was driving when stopped by the cops.

And she turned out to be a legal assistant for the firm representing Bubba! And she drove off with his trial bag containing his potentially super-secret court documents! And a DUI sergeant confirmed someone from Bubba's firm made the call to police that got the lawyer arrested!

Conspiracy! Schnitt's side said! Sleazy setup! Mistrial, they said!

And how I love Tampa.

Now there are those who believe this shock jock "war," from trash talk to happy hour hookup, is a publicity gimmick about as real as pro wrestling. (Well, Hulk Hogan is on the witness list.)

But if the seething between those two men in that courtroom is fake, both deserve Oscars.

Would a lawyer really risk his career for a sleazy setup?

By the way, if there was one empathetic character in this whole mess, it has to be Schnitt's wife Michelle (the one Bubba described on air as a "whore." Really, it's one classy genre.) You felt for her when she testified about her family being harassed by fans who call themselves Bubba's Army.

But all in fun, right? I figured for a shock jock spouse, getting called ugly names must be like having your dermatologist-husband constantly pulled aside at parties to assess yet another oozing rash.

So in this little big town, can I imagine two legal types from firms on opposite sides of a case by happenstance bellying up to the same bar? (And of course it had to be dark, swanky Malio's. Grisham would have insisted on it.) And at first, yes, I could.

But all that taking of the Fifth, all that lack of remembering what happened barely two days ago from witnesses in Friday's feisty motion for a mistrial, sure had you wondering about conspiracies. Judge James Arnold showed the patience of a pre-school teacher in a roomful of over-sugared toddlers trying to untangle this mess. Stay tuned.

But who'd have thought what had happened behind the scenes could turn out to be even uglier than, oh yeah, that nasty shock jock talk that got us here in the first place?

Comments
Some not-so-tiny obstacles in the growing market for tiny houses

Some not-so-tiny obstacles in the growing market for tiny houses

When Tom Alsani heard about plans for a tiny-home community in St. Petersburg, he got so excited he immediately wanted to know more. "Right now I have a house with three bedrooms but the kids are gone and I’m trying to downsize,’’ says Alsani, a qual...
Published: 07/23/18
South Tampa softball all-stars head to Southeast Regional

South Tampa softball all-stars head to Southeast Regional

TAMPA — Emilee Mezrah could have been on vacation in the Bahamas playing in the surf.Instead she’s on vacation in Georgia playing softball in the dirt.Beach vs. softball …"I chose softball," said Mezrah, a seventh grader at Coleman Middle School. "Ri...
Updated: 2 hours ago
‘Man, I feel good’: Rays’ Daniel Robertson describes his pinch-hit walkoff grand slam

‘Man, I feel good’: Rays’ Daniel Robertson describes his pinch-hit walkoff grand slam

ST. PETERSBURG — This is why you stay until the end.You hope to see something you've never seen before.And that's what happened Sunday at Tropicana Field. The Rays, who entered the ninth trailing the Marlins by three runs, weren't supposed to w...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays journal: Whoever you are, please put down the Matt Duffy voodoo doll

Rays journal: Whoever you are, please put down the Matt Duffy voodoo doll

Third baseman Matt Duffy returned to the lineup Sunday after sitting out Friday and Saturday because of back spasms. He went 0-for-3.The cause of those spasms? His drive to the ballpark."Just shifting my weight and turning the steering wheel," he sai...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Community holds vigil in Clearwater for man killed in parking lot dispute, protests ‘stand your ground’

Community holds vigil in Clearwater for man killed in parking lot dispute, protests ‘stand your ground’

Friends, family and supporters filled the sanctuary at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church on Sunday night calling for justice in the death of Markeis McGlockton last week.The vigil and protest, organized by the Clearwater/Upper Pinellas County Branch of the N...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Marlins game

Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Marlins game

ST. PETERSBURG — Takeaways from the Rays' 6-4 walkoff win Sunday over the Marlins at Tropicana Field:1. In six innings, Chris Archer had a season-high 13 strikeouts, but I wouldn't call his outing dominant. The Marlins scored four runs in the s...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tiger Woods was in British Open hunt. Now another major win doesn’t seem so improbable.

Tiger Woods was in British Open hunt. Now another major win doesn’t seem so improbable.

He was in the hunt. For real.False alarm?Did you care?For what seemed like days (it wasn't even an hour), Tiger Woods sat atop a leaderboard at a golf major Sunday.With everyone fading, he was 7 under and all alone at the British Open at Carnoustie w...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Francesco Molinari wins British Open on crazy day at Carnoustie

Francesco Molinari wins British Open on crazy day at Carnoustie

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — Francesco Molinari played a steady hand amid the cheers for Tiger Woods and another crazy ending at Carnoustie to win the British Open on Sunday and become Italy's first major champion.Woods brought pandemonium by chargin...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Reactions vary to new USF football uniforms

Reactions vary to new USF football uniforms

Public sentiment remained mixed late Sunday afternoon on the new USF football uniforms unveiled earlier in the day.A brief video of Bulls TE Mitch Wilcox modeling an all-forest green version of the uniforms was released on the football program's offi...
Updated: 8 hours ago
NAACP to hold vigil for man killed in ‘stand your ground’ shooting Thursday

NAACP to hold vigil for man killed in ‘stand your ground’ shooting Thursday

A local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is holding a vigil Sunday for a black man who was killed Thursday in what authorities are calling a "stand your ground" shooting.The vigil for the family of Markeis McGl...
Updated: 11 hours ago