Legal Ethics

3 lawyers 'maliciously' set up opposing counsel for midtrial DUI arrest, referee says

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Three Florida lawyers violated attorney ethics rules by “deliberately and maliciously” setting up opposing counsel for a drunken-driving arrest during a hard-fought, high-profile defamation trial, a Florida judge acting as a referee in the legal ethics case has ruled.

A hearing will be held in August to determine what penalty will be imposed on Robert Adams, Stephen Diaco and Adam Filthaut for their conduct during the 2013 trial. They could potentially be disbarred, according to the Associated Press and the Tampa Tribune.

An Adams & Diaco paralegal reportedly spotted the opposing lawyer, C. Philip Campbell, at a Tampa steakhouse one night after the trial was over for the day and had drinks with him without revealing her connection with the firm. A flurry of phone calls and texts ensued between the paralegal, firm lawyers and a Tampa police sergeant who was a friend of one of the lawyers. The evening culminated with Campbell’s arrest by Tampa police as he pulled away from the restaurant in the paralegal’s vehicle, which she had urged him to drive.

A DUI case against Campbell was dropped, and a federal civil rights investigation was launched in addition to the legal ethics case. At last report, the civil rights probe was still ongoing.

Related coverage: “2 lawyers and paralegal take Fifth; name partner says he didn’t direct DUI setup of trial opponent” “Paralegal’s ex testifies, says she admitted DUI setup of opposing trial lawyer”

See also:

Tampa Bay Times: “Lawyer accused in DUI setup puts St. Petersburg home on market for $2.9 million”

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