The perjury trial of Cy Young Award- and World Series-winning pitcher Roger Clemens was declared a mistrial today, after prosecution entered evidence that the Judge had already declared inadmissible. And the Judge thoroughly chastised the government for their mess up: "I don't like making orders and lawyers not abiding by them...I think a first year law student would know that you can't bolster the credibility of a witness with clearly inadmissible evidence," Judge Reggie Walton scolded.
Clemens had been indicted for making false statements to Congress during his testimony over steroid use. But today, prosecutors showed a video involving testimony of Laura Pettitte, in which she recalled a conversation with her husband, former Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, when he said Clemens had used human growth hormone. But Walton had previously ruled that prosecution could not bring up her testimony, because it was double hearsay.
When they started playing the video which referenced the conversation, the Judge immediately excused the jury and laced into the prosecution for violating his order. "I don't see how I can unring the bell. What I view, based on what I know about the case, Mr. Pettitte's testimony is going to be critical over whether this man is going to prison. The government should have taken steps to ensure we were not in this situation," the Judge said.
At this point, it seems that Clemens may have escaped from having another trial—Walton set a Sept. 2 hearing date to determine whether double jeopardy is an issue. Former federal prosecutor Harry Sandick told us it was a "huge black eye for the government" and a giant embarrassment: “How could the government not have reviewed each piece of evidence after the court's pretrial rulings? This is crucially important, and prosecutors have to do this all the time -- cannot simply leave your evidence in place when the court has precluded a portion of it from being shown to the jury.”
There have been varied reactions to the mistrial: Yahoo! Sports' Les Carpenter doesn't see the trial going on again ("In double jeopardy hearings, a decision might be reached that Clemens wont be able to be charged again"), while a News source close to Clemens case doubts the double-jeopardy argument will work: "John Gotti got three mistrials."
Some made jokes about the case—Bruce Arthur tweeted, "Roger Clemens should throw a shattered shard of the judge's gavel at the prosecutors". But Jon Bois at SB Nation was surprised at the anger toward Clemens: "Imprisoning him isn't going to prevent him from harming anyone; he never harmed anyone to begin with. Imprisoning Clemens would make us far more of a monster than he ever was or would be. Clemens cheated and he seems like an arrogant jerk. Shrug. I'm not going to wish prison on him, just as I'm not going to slug you for telling a bad joke."