Under normal circumstances, I would have no problem with an attorney or anyone else calling police if they suspect someone of driving under the influence. But these are normal circumstances.
Yesterday, Robert Adams and Adam Filthaut were permanently barred from the practice of law in the state of Florida by the Florida Supreme Court. A third attorney involved in the case, Stephen Diaco, had been disbarred in January.
The punishments were the result of the three attorneys’ involvement in the DUI arrest of fellow attorney and opposing counsel C. Philip Campbell.
According to court testimony, Adams, Filthaut, and Diaco represented local personality Bubba “the Love Sponge” in a lawsuit against him filed by fellow disc jockey Todd “MJ” Schmitt. The case had become so acrimonious that Bubba’s lawyers conspired to have one of their law firm’s paralegals drink with Campbell at a local bar. A paralegal at the firm in which Adams, Filthaut, and Diaco worked spotted Campbell and called her bosses. After phone calls and text messages with the attorneys, she began drinking and flirting with Campbell until he was drunk.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Meanwhile, Filthaut, another Adams & Diaco lawyer, was phoning a close family friend: a Tampa police DUI sergeant who set up a stakeout for Campbell. According to an investigation, Campbell intended to walk the few blocks home to his downtown apartment, but the paralegal persuaded him to drive her in her car. Sgt. Ray Fernandez pulled him over a few blocks away. Campbell, now 68, was charged with DUI and taken to jail.”
As the Pinellas prosecutors investigated the case, they found the lurid backstory behind Campbell’s DUI and dropped the charges against him.
When the Florida Supreme Court issued their ruling against Adams and Filthaut, they noted in disgust, “among the most shocking, unethical and unprofessional” conduct they’d ever witnessed.
There was a time when lawyers were held in high regard for their professionalism and integrity. My mother worked hard to get her GED just so that I would be proud of her as a lawyer. (Of course, I was proud of my mom regardless.) This type of behavior by lawyers hurts the integrity of the profession and hurts all of us. It’s shameful and the punishment fits the crime in this instance.
Because of my mom, everything I strive to do as a lawyer, I do to make her proud. If I do that and accomplish nothing else I know she will rest in peace.