An attorney from Tampa, Fla., has claimed one legal victory after the dismissal of a drunken-driving charge against him – a charge he said was the result of dirty tricks by an opposing law firm. But the lawyer still has a ways to go before he’s clear of all the drama that started with a defamation suit between two radio shock jocks.

Attorney C. Philip Campbell was arrested for driving under the influence in January, right in the middle of the defamation case. He claims his arrest, which occurred near a steakhouse where he was having drinks with a woman who turned out to be a paralegal from the opposing firm, was a set-up, according to an article from the ABA Journal.

If that sounds unbelievable, consider the fact that Tampa police apparently waited near the restaurant for nearly two hours before spotting and arresting Campbell. The stake-out occurred after an attorney from the opposing firm called police with a tip that Campbell was drinking and driving, according to a Tampa Bay Times article.

The woman Campbell was drinking with supposedly told him she worked for another firm. It was only later that he discovered she was a paralegal at Adams & Diaco, the law firm representing a radio show host who Campbell’s client sued for defamation.
The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s office announced Monday that it will not pursue the drunken-driving charge against Campbell due to a lack of evidence. A memo from the prosecutors’ office questioned why the paralegal told investigators she could not remember anything about more than 100 texts and voicemail messages she sent and received the morning after Campbell’s arrest. The memo said she “appeared heavily coached in her answers,” according to the ABA article.

An FBI investigation into whether Campbell’s civil rights were violated is ongoing.  Adams & Diaco, the opposing firm, denies any wrongdoing, according to the articles.

In case you're wondering, entrapment is not a defense to a DWI - at least not in Waco, or anywhere else in Texas. I doubt it's a defense in Florida. To prove entrapment you have to establish you were not predisposed to commit the offense - probably a little tough on a DWI case, where you are having drinks at a club. So you have to wonder why they dropped the charges? My guess is they didn't want to get in between the two battling law firms, especially when the main witness appears to have some pretty significant problems with her credibility.

They may have also been worried about something else - jury nullification. That's not a legal defense, but a common sense one. Sometimes jurors just don't think someone should be convicted - even if they are guilty. In other words, they don't think the State should be getting involved. I could see that being a concern in a case like this.

The case is definitely unique. If this scenario hasn't already been used in a TV or movie script, I bet it will be now.

Walter Reaves
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Criminal Defense Attorney Walter Reaves has been practicing law for over 35 years.
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