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Mistrial declared in Roger Clemens case

Jul 14, 2011, 12:01 PM EDT

Roger Clemens

UPDATE: On day two of what was supposed to be a long, arduous criminal trial of Roger Clemens, the judge has declared a mistrial. It’s over. For now anyway.  A hearing has been set for September 2nd when the entirety of the case will be revisited, but now everyone goes home.

The judge was plain as day when he ordered a mistrial. He said “it was caused by the government.”  How so: the government played a video in which the affidavit of Andy Pettitte’s wife was read by Congressman Elijah Cummings, in which she said she remembered Pettitte telling her that Clemens had admitted using steroids. The judge had specifically forbade them to play this video because the testimony was inadmissible as about 18 layers of hearsay.  That was a serious transgression. Inexcusable, really, and could have been caused by only (a) extreme incompetence; or (b) contempt for the judges’ order.

The prosecution will likely continue to pursue this case when the matter is revisited in September.  But at this point, between the Bonds’ acquittal and this blunder, I suspect that the fates are trying to tell the government something about the wisdom of pursuing high-profile perjury prosecutions regarding professional athletes and steroids.

UPDATE II:  If you’d like to see an excellent real-time account of what happened, go to Les Carpenter’s Twitter feed here, scroll down to the tweet that begins “Judge Walton is checking his Blackberry,” and read up.  Fantastic reporting by Carpenter. Totally captures how Twitter can be used in reporting this kind of story.

11:26 AM: Roger Clemens’ lawyer, Rusty Hardin, has moved for a mistrial.  And this just isn’t a case of Rusty being Rusty: the judge said that he will probably grant the request, ending this trial before it truly began.

Reports are still preliminary, but apparently the prosecution played a video to the jury with Andy Pettitte’s former testimony on it. Testimony that the judge has already ruled was inadmissible in this case. Hardin went crazy — you can’t practically ask a jury to disregard something they’ve heard, even though it happens often — and according to those in the courtroom, the judge had no small amount of sympathy for Hardin’s position.  Which he should, because such conduct by the prosecution is, quite frankly, inexcusable and is terribly prejudicial to the defendant.

There’s a recess going on now while the judge considers the mistrial motion.  If he declares a mistrial, we start all over again.  Likely many months from now.

  1. redsghost - Jul 14, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    I guess “big, famous and rich” celebrities DO get breaks, right Harden? Ask OJ, ask Vick (didn’t get near what he should’ve gotten), ask the French dude let go for rape, ask Toothlessburger etc…. They ALL get away with crimes, just depends upon how much it costs them.
    Wondering how much Walton is going to cost Clemens.

  2. Max Power - Jul 14, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    The prosecutor in really shouldn’t have shown the video of the ear growing out of Roger Clemens’ forehead.

  3. danberman4 - Jul 14, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    Another chance lost to have people under oath testify about the use of steroids in baseball.

  4. danberman4 - Jul 14, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    I know many just want to move on and that’s a shame. It’s important that we find out as much as we can what was really happening. Unfortunately, too many people don’t want to hear facts, they’d rather just “move on” and not know the truth about things.

    • hardjudge - Jul 14, 2011 at 8:06 PM

      In this case it is clear the federal prosecutors deliberately disobeyed the order of the court concerning in admissible evidence. They should be accessed the cost of the trial, sentenced to 6 months in jail( the maximum for this type of contempt) and then be required to attend seminars on legal ethic(oxymoron I know). This was in excusable evidence, but since Obama’s prosecutors have taken over we have had many of these cases, i.e. the senator Stevens case in Alaska.

      • garythebat - Jul 14, 2011 at 11:40 PM

        Good lord, you are a misinformed little man. I can’t believe you’d really link these lawyers’ incompetence with Obama. Are you aware that Stevens’ trial took place in October 2008? And Obama took office in January 2009?

  5. tominma - Jul 15, 2011 at 7:24 AM

    One of 2 things is true. These federal prosecutors are truly stupid. OR, the fix was in to cause a mistrial to protect Clemens. I really cant think of any alternative..

    PS: There are bozos who will try to politicize anything and I think most people will treat them with the contempt they deserve. ‘Obama’s prosecutors” STOOOOOOOOOOOPID statetment.

  6. Chris Ross - Jul 15, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    What a shocker yesterday morning was. I could not believe what I was seeing when I saw that the Clemens trial was deemed a mistrial. It’s amazing to think that the prosecuition could make such a mistake. I guess they were probably trying to bend the rules but that’s no excuse. They shouldn’t have been doing that if that was their intention and if it wasn’t they should have known that they were going to get in trouble for showing the evidence that they did. This is turning into an even bigger gong show than it already was. I’m really anxious to see what happens with a potential re-trial.

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