Todd "M.J." Schnitt (left) and Bubba "The Love Sponge" Clem (right) appear in a Hillsborough courtroom. Schnitt has filed a defamation lawsuit, saying Clem made offensive comments about him and his wife.
Tampa, Florida - It was a legal showdown between attorneys representing two nationally syndicated radio shows hosts out of Tampa: Bubba the Love Sponge Clem and Todd "MJ" Schnitt. On Friday morning, a judge ordered both sides into mediation as quickly as next week.
Both Bubba and MJ were not in court Friday, although MJ's wife Michelle was there, in addition to executive producer Brent Hatley from the Bubba the Love Sponge Show.
The recent shock jock trial captivated the Bay area and the nation during a defamation lawsuit in January. A jury ruled in favor of Bubba, and MJ lost the defamation suit. However, MJ made good on a promise to appeal the jury's decision.
During the trial, drama erupted many times, but none more so than the night one of MJ's attorneys, Phil Campbell, was arrested on DUI charges after drinking at Malio's with a legal assistant who worked for opposing counsel. The question remains from those involved: was it a set-up? And who handled Campbell's trial bag that was left in the paralegal's car?
MJ fired his previous attorneys and now has a new legal team at Florin Roebig. Will Florin told 10 News, "We want answers. We have more questions than answers right now."
Those answers include what happened that night at Malio's, including videotapes and receipts. Even patrons who ate there that night could be deposed. The new attorneys want answers from the involved parties and a new trial.
Judge James Arnold set a hearing date of April 22, giving both sides enough time to come to an agreement. If that does not take place, the judge said he would make the decision when it comes to MJ getting a new trial.
"We all have other work to do, and I'm inclined to get this case over with," Judge Arnold said.
Bubba attorney Jay Diaco told 10 News, "[We] are focused like laser beams on preserving this trial verdict for Mr. Clem. The jury and the community spoke as loudly as a jury can."
Brent Hatley told 10 News, "We are not going to budge an inch. Mr. Clem values the first amendment. MJ wants us to sign a disparagement agreement and not talk about him. Not gonna happen. They shouldn't hold their breath."
Bubba's lawyers also put out this statement on Friday afternoon:
Mr. Bubba Clem is pleased that Judge Arnold has granted his motion to refer the lawsuit to mediation. He looks forward to he and his legal team having good faith discussions regarding the pending issues in the case, post the verdict, with Mr. and Mrs. Schnitt and their council to discuss solutions which will hopefully allow all parties to move forward with their personal and professional lives in a more positive fashion and bring this lawsuit to an end.
Right now, the Florida Bar also is looking into the DUI issue in this case and investigating those involved. Several attorneys could face disciplinary acts, such as including disbarment.