Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. News

Lawyers in DUI set-up case say evidence against them is 'thin'

TAMPA — Lawyers for three attorneys facing possible disbarment said the case against them is "nonexistent," according to written arguments filed on Wednesday.

The arguments were a response to the Florida Bar's allegations that the three Adams & Diaco attorneys conspired with one of their paralegals to have lawyer C. Philip Campbell arrested for driving under the influence in 2013.

At the time, the Adams & Diaco firm and Campbell opposed each other in a bitter defamation suit between warring radio personalities Todd Schnitt and Bubba the Love Sponge Clem. The lawyers' disciplinary trial ended last month.

The judge is expected to announce his ruling July 8.

Accused of violating nine Florida Bar rules, the three lawyers — Stephen Diaco, Robert Adams and Adam Filthaut — face possible sanctions ranging from admonishment to permanent disbarment.

But in filings submitted to the judge, they argued that the only violation they are guilty of is failing to supervise paralegal Melissa Personius, who witnesses said drank and flirted with Campbell on the night he was arrested for driving under the influence.

Diaco and Filthaut also argued that the judge should not penalize them for refusing to testify at trial, where they invoked their Fifth Amendment rights to all the Bar's questions.

Adams, who did testify, admitted in his closing argument to making "a serious error in judgement," by not preventing Personius from chatting up Campbell or stopping his colleague Filthaut from reporting Campbell's drinking to his friend, Tampa police Sgt. Ray Fernandez.

Filthaut's attorney said his client was acting on the orders of his boss, Stephen Diaco.

The Bar has argued that all three lawyers orchestrated Campbell's arrest and have pointed to phone records from that evening showing they were in frequent contact with each other and with Personius.