The judge declared a mistrial Thursday in baseball star Roger Clemens’ perjury trial after prosecutors showed jurors evidence that the judge had ruled out of bounds.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said Clemens could not be assured a fair trial after prosecutors showed jurors evidence against his orders in the second day of testimony.
Walton scheduled a Sept. 2 hearing to determine whether to hold a new trial. Rusty Hardin, Clemens’ attorney, said he needs until July 29 to file the motion for the hearing. The prosecution has until Aug. 2 to respond.
Walton told jurors he was sorry to have wasted their time and spent so much taxpayer money, only to call off the case.
“There are rules that we play by and those rules are designed to make sure both sides receive a fair trial,” Walton told the jury, saying such ground rules are critical when a person’s liberty is at stake.
Walton interrupted the prosecution’s playing of a video from Clemens’ 2008 testimony before Congress and had the jury removed from the courtroom. Clemens is accused of lying during that testimony when he said he never used performance-enhancing drugs during his 24-season career in the Major Leagues.
One of the chief pieces of evidence against Clemens is testimony from his former teammate and close friend, Andy Pettitte, who says Clemens told him in 1999 or 2000 that he used human growth hormone. Clemens has said that Pettitte misheard him. Pettitte also says he told his wife, Laura, about the conversation the same day it happened.
Prosecutors had wanted to call Laura Pettitte as a witness to back up her husband’s account, but Walton had said he wasn’t inclined to have her testify since she didn’t speak directly to Clemens.
Walton was angered that in the video prosecutors showed the jury, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., referred to Pettitte’s conversation with his wife.
“I think that a first-year law student would know that you can’t bolster the credibility of one witness with clearly inadmissible evidence,” Walton said.
He said it was the second time that prosecutors had gone against his orders — the other being an incident that happened during opening arguments Wednesday when assistant U.S. attorney Steven Durham said that Pettite and two other of Clemens’ New York teammates, Chuck Knoblauch and Mike Stanton, had used human growth hormone.
I haven’t followed the trial much because I only have so much bandwidth, but I never expected this to happen. What a massive screwup by a federal prosecutor. At this point, I think for the charges to be dismissed is the best outcome. We’ll see what happens next.