Legal Ethics

Bar probes 3 lawyers accused of setting up opposing counsel for mid-trial DUI arrest


The Florida Bar is investigating three lawyers accused of playing a role in the mid-trial drunken-driving arrest of their opposing counsel in a hard-fought radio shock jock defamation case.

C. Philip Campbell faces a driving-under-the-influence charge after he was arrested Jan. 23 at the wheel of a paralegal’s car as the two left a Tampa steakhouse. The paralegal, Melissa Personius, works for Adams & Diaco, which opposes Campbell’s law firm in the case. As detailed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post, she has been accused of giving Campbell misleading information about her employment and repeatedly took the Fifth in a mistrial motion hearing over claims that her law firm set Campbell up for the arrest.

On Monday, the Bar announced that it has opened investigations on partners Robert Adams and Stephen Diaco, as well as Adam Filthaut, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The article does not detail what the three lawyers have been accused of doing.

The lawyers at the helm in the defamation trial, Joseph Diaco and Greg Hearing, are not being investigated, the newspaper notes.

Attorney Lee Gunn, who represents the three Adams & Diaco lawyers under investigation by the Bar, said they will cooperate fully but are not responsible for Campbell’s decision to drink and drive.

“We are confident that when the facts are fully vetted that any responsibility for the decision to drink and drive will be laid at the person who took the direction to get behind the wheel,” he stated.

After a verdict for the defense in the defamation trial, Circuit Judge James Arnold converted a mistrial motion based on the alleged DUI set-up into a motion for a new trial and gave the go-ahead for discovery to proceed, the Times reports. He had previously put the mistrial motion on hold so the defamation trial could continue to verdict.

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