Bubba Defends Self In Opening Statement
Court Battle Of Radio Hosts Begins In Tampa - Bubba Take The Witness Stand
TAMPA, FL. -- One of the attorneys for shock jock Bubba "The Love Sponge" Clem made an opening statement to a six member, four-alternate jury this morning in a Tampa courtroom, defending his client against defamation charges made by conservative radio show host Todd "MJ" Schnitt.
Photo: Bubba Clem speaks with one of his legal staff during morning court recess
Clem's attorney didn't deny that the radio show used hyperbole and parody about Schnitt, but contends it was permissible. Described was a running feud between the two when they both worked for Clear Channel networks.
Clem alleged that Schnitt was somehow behind a 2002 criminal prosecution against him after Clem had a hog hunted and butchered as a bit on his radio show. Schnitt's wife Michelle is an attorney, and at the time was an assistant state attorney in the same office as the prosecuting attorney. The charges did not result in a conviction.
Clem, then went to satellite radio with his show and the two allegedly did not get along at all since that incident. That feud was the "basis for his statements" about Schnitt, said the defendant's attorney.
Monetary damages and reputation losses affecting Schnitt were dismissed by the defense, saying the two radio hosts had differing audiences, and claimed there would be no evidence presented as to any loss of income or radio audience to Schnitt, which would have to be proved in order to win a defamation suit.
Clem's argument defended the "Bubba Army's" actions and emails since the alleged incidents were not able to be connected to who sent them and who they were. Allegedly, the Schnitt's had been "egged" in 2006, even before the "Mother's Day" egging incident alleged by Schnitt to be instigated by Clem in 2010 and other harassment was noted even before Clem became rivals.
It was all "entertainment" said the defense about the on-air comments made by Clem about the Schnitts.
Bubba Clem Testifies
Clem took the witness stand as an "adverse" witness for the Plaintiff case after the opening statements by both sides were concluded. Plaintiff's attorney went over some radio terms, asked about Clem's dismissal from Clear Channel radio and got Clem to testify that he was a "shock jock." Questions about his "uncensored" radio shows on Sirius Satellite arose leading to whether Clem began on-air feuds about Schnitt at that time.
An audio was played for the jurors where Clem said, "I'm calling your wife a whore!" referring about Todd Schnitt's wife Michelle, an attorney at the time. Another clip was played where Clem explained to his radio audience he didn't mean to imply she was literally a whore and said in the clip he didn't think it was defaming.
The court is recessed for lunch. The trial is expected to last three weeks, with dozens of witnesses testifying to the jurors.
Update: The court session continued at 1:30 p.m. as Clem remained on the witness stand continuing to answer questions on direct examination and then on cross-examination from his own attorney.
It must have been an "entertaining" afternoon for the jurors as many audio clips were played from the Bubba radio show, providing probably evidence that remarks made on air about Schnitt were hyperbole and parody against radio figure "MJ Kelli" and not meant against Todd Schnitt and wife personally, according to Clem's testimony and the audio exhibits, which seem to clear him of some notions of alleged defamation.
The trial will continue Wednesday morning a 9 a.m., most likely with Clem still providing testimony in the cross-examination by his attorney followed up by re-direct by the Plaintiff.
Photo Credit: 13th Judicial Circuit/Fox 13 Tampa Bay