Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens saw a premature end to his perjury trial after a judge declared a mistrial. With a new trial still possible, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton struck down the case after the prosecution presented evidence to the jury that the judge had already thrown out.
The former All-Star was facing federal charges for perjury and obstruction of justice.
The inadmissible evidence consisted of a videotaped statement related to claims that a former teammate told his wife that Clemens admitted to using a performance-enhancing drug.
The tape featured Clemens testifying before Congress in 2008 during a hearing on Major League Baseball players and performance-enhancing drugs. During the hearing, Clemens claimed he never used banned substances during his 24-year career. The tape also depicted teammate Andy Pettitte telling investigators that Clemens confessed to using such drugs.
The prosecution wanted to introduce statements made by Pettitte’s wife, who recalled her husband telling her of Clemens’ admission. However, the judge deemed the testimony inadmissible because Pettitte’s wife was not directly involved with Clemens.
Despite Judge Walton’s previous rulings to the contrary, jurors were exposed to comments related to the banned testimony via the video. Justifiably fearing that this banned evidence could influence the jury, Judge Walton declared the mistrial only two days into testimony. Clemens left the courtroom, pausing to shake hands with security guards and sign autographs for fans.
The mistrial could mean that the case against Roger Clemens is completely finished. The U.S. Constitution prohibits double jeopardy, which happens when the government tries someone for the same crime twice. Judge Walton set a September 2 hearing in order to determine whether Clemens could face another trial or if that would creep into territory of double jeopardy.
Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Judge declares a mistrial in Clemens’ case,” 15 July 2011