Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Judge faults feds for mistrial

WASHINGTON — Almost as soon as it began, former star Roger Clemens' perjury trial ended Thursday in a mistrial the judge blamed on prosecutors for doing something he said a "first-year law student" would have known to avoid.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton called a halt to the trial after prosecutors showed jurors evidence that he had ruled out: videotaped revelations that a teammate had said he'd told his wife Clemens confessed to using a performance-enhancing drug.

Walton scolded prosecutors and said he couldn't let the former All-Star pitcher face prison if convicted on such "extremely prejudicial" evidence.

"Mr. Clemens has to get a fair trial," Walton said. "In my view, he can't get it now."

Defense attorney Rusty Hardin, who had asked for a mistrial, patted Clemens on the back as the judge announced his decision. As he left the courthouse, Clemens did not comment. He accepted hugs from court workers, shook hands with the security guards and autographed baseballs for fans.

The quick end on the second day of testimony was the second mistrial involving a superstar player accused in baseball's steroids scandal. Home run king Barry Bonds was convicted three months ago of obstruction of justice, but a mistrial was called on three more serious false-statements charges after jurors couldn't agree on a verdict.

Walton said he would hold a hearing Sept. 2 to decide whether Clemens should face another trial. Walton could end the prosecution by declaring a new trial would run afoul of double jeopardy, the right not to be brought to trial twice on the same charges for the same offense. Experts said it was unlikely he would go that far, especially because the trial was just under way.

The Washington U.S. attorney's office, which tried the case, said it would have no comment because of a gag order Walton had imposed.

The unraveling of the case began as prosecutors were showing jurors a video of Clemens' 2008 testimony before Congress. Clemens is accused of lying under oath during that testimony when he said he never used performance-enhancing drugs.

Clemens' former Yankees teammate and friend, Andy Pettitte, had told committee investigators Clemens confessed in 1999 or 2000 that he used human growth hormone. Clemens has said Pettitte "misremembers" or "misheard" their conversation.

Prosecutors had wanted to call Pettitte's wife, Laura, as a witness to back up her husband's account; she says her husband told her about the conversation the day it happened. But Walton had said Laura Pettitte's statement wasn't admissible because it didn't involve direct knowledge of what Clemens said.

In the video prosecutors showed the jury, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., referred to Pettitte's conversation with his wife during the questioning of Clemens. Walton cut off the tape and eventually told the jurors to leave while he discussed the issue with attorneys in open court. Hardin asked for a mistrial; prosecutors suggested the problem could be fixed with an instruction to the jury to disregard the evidence. Walton responded they could never know what impact the evidence would have during the jury's deliberations.

"I don't see how I unring the bell," he said.

Judge faults feds for mistrial 07/14/11 [Last modified: Thursday, July 14, 2011 10:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jordan Spieth wins British Open (w/ video)

    Golf

    SOUTHPORT, England — Someday, perhaps soon, there will be a plaque at Royal Birkdale for Jordan Spieth, much like the one off the 16th hole that celebrates Arnold Palmer and the 6-iron he slashed out of the rough in 1961 to win the British Open and usher in a new era of golf.

    Matt Kuchar plays out of the bunker on the 18th hole and finishes with bogey for 1-under 69. He had a one-shot lead after 13 holes.
  2. Fennelly: Brutal weekend could be start of something worse for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Well, that was lovely.

    Brad Boxberger suffers his second loss in the three-game series, this time by allowing back-to-back homers in the eighth inning when called on to protect a 5-3 lead. “Just bad pitches,” he says.
  3. Wesley Chapel hockey camp impresses youth players, parents

    Lightning Strikes

    WESLEY CHAPEL — As a 17-year-old Triple-A hockey player, MacCallum Brown regularly plays against elite talent. As a Palm Harbor resident, he often has to travel to face that talent.

  4. Rays journal: Rays gamble on Sergio Romo's track record, heart

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Some of RHP Sergio Romo's numbers this season with the Dodgers were the worst of his career, yet the Rays feel he can be a good fit for their bullpen.

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26:  Sergio Romo #54 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the 9th inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on June 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
  5. Rays claim not to be panicking after third straight brutal loss to Rangers (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — There was no "here we go again" moment in the dugout as Rougned Odor's two-run homer in the eighth inning arced across Tropicana Field and toward the rightfield seats, even though when it landed, the score was tied and another late-inning Rays lead was blown.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria heads back to the dugout after fouling out in the ninth inning with the potential tying run on first.