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Judge Declares Mistrial In Clemens Perjury Case

Jul 14, 2011

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One day after the perjury trial of Roger Clemens began, it jerked to a halt Thursday, as the judge in the case declared a mistrial. Clemens' attorney, Rusty Hardin, had asked U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to declare a mistrial on the grounds that prosecutors had put evidence before the jury that he had expressly forbade them from introducing.

Update at 12:15 p.m. ET: Two incidents prompted the mistrial, according to reports. In one, assistant U.S. attorney Steven Durham said in court that several of Clemens' teammates from the New York Yankees (Andy Pettite, Chuck Knoblauch and Mike Stanton) used human growth hormone.

In the other, prosecutors botched an attempt to strengthen the testimony of Pettitte, who says he recalls a conversation in which Clemens told him he was using human growth hormone.

Clemens and his attorneys dispute that claim, saying that Pettitte is mis-remembering the chat from more than 10 years ago. As the AP reports:

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.

From our original post:

The AP describes the issue:

Prosecutors suggested the problem could be fixed with an instruction to the jury to disregard the evidence, but Walton seemed skeptical. "I don't see how I un-ring the bell," he said.

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.

A new hearing will take place on Sept. 2, to determine whether to hold a new trial for Clemens.

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