What if you were just told that you’re about to hear a “shocking, unethical, and unprofessional” story? First, the word “shocking” sounds like something straight out of The National Enquirer, and every week this tabloid claims to have a new, shocking story (which then has the effect of making it seem not so shocking). Is it shocking that a vegan celebrity was caught eating ribs at 4 Rivers? No, its not, because the BBQ at 4 Rivers is so good, it’s intrinsic deliciousness has the power to convert vegans to the other team. Now, maybe vegan-to-ribs is a bit of a stretch, vegans may start with cheese or egg long before they lick the meat off a slab of ribs. If CNN or Fox News tells you something is “shocking” and “unethical”, you’ll immediately think that some politician was caught with “his” pants down (yes, I said “his”, because it seems that women don’t get caught in such compromising positions–why is that?). Today, our shocking story doesn’t come from a tabloid, or cable news, it comes from The Florida Supreme Court.
In The Florida Bar v. Adams and Filthaut, the Florida Supreme Court called the behavior of these lawyers “the most shocking, unethical, and unprofessional as has ever been brought before this Court”. (Fla. No. SC14-1054, August 25, 2016, you may find the opinion by clicking here).
It all began in Tampa with a lawsuit between two local DJ’s. After the first day of trial, the lawyers for each side retired for the evening. A paralegal for the defense attorneys (Adams, Filthaut, and Diaco) spotted the opposing lawyer (Campbell) at a bar in a nearby steakhouse. She called her lawyer bosses to let them know what she’d found. After a flurry of communications between the paralegal and the three defense lawyers, a plan hatched to have their female paralegal flirt with opposing counsel (he didn’t recognize her as being part of the other side). She flirted, lied about where she worked (obviously), and bought him drinks–enough drinks to dip him into a DUI situation. And, a DUI arrest was the goal here. To aid in the plan, attorney Filthaut reached out to a cop friend Sargent Fernandez to post up outside the steakhouse to await his big lawyer arrest. Everything was in place for when Campbell would drive home.
There was one big problem with this DUI plan–Campbell was within walking distance to his home. So much for all those drinks, the lies, and all that flirting. This minor detail didn’t stop these attorneys from scheming further. Nice guys, huh? Texts and phone calls shot back and forth between the lawyers and the boots on the ground–their attractive paralegal. If the paralegal could get Campbell to drive her home, that would be enough to send him to jail. But when the paralegal mentioned the ride home, Campbell didn’t take the bait–he decided to call her a cab. As you can see, we’re not dealing with the likes of Jason Bourne, more like some of the more crazy moments of Carrie Mathison from Homeland (Best show ever. At least Top 5). The paralegal rejected the cab offer, claiming that her car was with the valet and the valet wouldn’t hold the car overnight. So, the attorney asked the valet if they could keep the car overnight, and they agreed. You would think these attorneys, and their paralegal, would simply give up at this point, but, I wouldn’t be writing this story if they gave up that quickly, would I?
With Campbell rejecting the drive home scenario, the paralegal explains that the steakhouse valet lot was not a safe place to keep her car. Would Campbell be kind enough to move the car a block away for safe keeping? With cops waiting outside, the trap was set. According to court records, “out of frustration, he agreed to move the car to a lot near his apartment building and call her a cab from there”.
And that, my friends, is how nice guys finish last. The 68 year old attorney Campbell wound up in jail for DUI. It took three lawyers, a few officers, and a flirty undercover paralegal to have opposing counsel arrested in the middle of a huge trial.
A few things about this case add insult to injury. First, Campbell B.A.L. wasn’t even over the legal limit when he was arrested. Second, after Campbell’s arrest, Stephen Diaco “made several statements to the media about the DUI of his opposing counsel Campbell, how the arrest caused the trial to be continued, and how Campbell’s behavior was a mockery of the judicial system and an embarrassment to Diaco as an attorney.” Third insult to injury: Campbell left his trial bag in the paralegal’s car. This trial bag had secret notes pertaining to the trial. Gee, do you think opposing attorneys Adams, Filthaut, or Diaco had a peek at this private briefcase? After all, the bag was in the possession of their employee? The bag was only returned after Campbell demanded it’s return. Shocking, I know.
The DUI charges against Campbell were dropped. Lawyers Stephen Diaco, Robert Adams, and Adam Filthaut have all been disbarred. Permanently. The officer waiting outside, Sgt. Fernandez, was fired.
Trust is hard to come by these days. We don’t trust the government. We don’t trust corporations. We don’t trust lawyers. I don’t even trust lawyers, and I am one. Diaco, Adams, and Filthaut got caught. How many lawyers out there don’t get caught? What ever happened to the days when a handshake was all you needed to confirm that folks were going to be fair? Maybe, there were never days like that. So, if we can ever get back to trusting one another, getting rid of a few bad lawyers is a good start.