Judge in Roger Clemens Case Declares a Mistrial

Jul 14, 2011 12:00pm

ABC News' Jason Ryan (@jasonryanabc): Just days after it began, the federal judge overseeing the Roger Clemens perjury trial ended the proceedings and declared a mistrial today. Judge Reggie Walton halted proceedings this morning because of complaints from the defense about prosecutors’ use of information the judge had banned, quickly accepted their concerns and then declared a mistrial. Clemens’ defense team had raised objections to prosecutors’ showing jurors extended parts of Clemens testimony on Feb. 13, 2008, which referenced conversations between Pettitte and his wife about use of HGH, a substance banned in baseball. At issue is whether Clemens lied to investigators three years ago that he never used steroids. Before  a brief recess, Walton admonished prosecutors for not editing down portions of the testimony, saying, “I made a ruling that statements that Mr. Pettitte made to his wife could not be admitted. “This clearly runs afoul of my pre-trial rulings.”  Walton told the prosecutors. “That testimony is not going to be relevant.” The problems arose when the jury saw an extended clip from Clemens congressional testimony in which a member of Congress  read aloud a segment of Andy Pettitte’s wife deposition as part of the congressional inquiry. The controversial segment that was presented to the jury included Laura Pettitte’s testimony where she said, “I, Laura Pettitte, do depose and state, in 1999 or 2000, Andy told me he had had a conversation with Roger Clemens in which Roger admitted to him using human growth hormones.” Judge Walton halted the proceedings without an objection from the defense when it became clear to him prosecutors had not abided by a July 7 ruling he had issued in the case that limited references the prosecutors could make about  the statements that Pettitte’s wife had made to congressional investigators. The quotation from Laura Pettitte was left on a screen for the jury to see while Walton halted the proceedings. Clemens’ former trainer, Brian McNamee, has acknowledged that he injected Pettitte with HGH in 2002 and 2004 and both men were to be key witnesses for the prosecution against Clemens. In his congressional testimony, Clemens, 48, said that he and Pettitte had discussed HGH when Clemens had seen a television program that showed older men getting their quality of life back after using the substance. “I believe Andy has misheard … I think he misremembered.” Clemens said during his congressional testimony. “These exhibits were admitted into evidence without objection,” Prosecutor Steve Durham told the judge. “That doesn’t override my ruling.” Walton boomed in the court. Walton said a first-year law student would not make this mistake and said the prosecutors had been “doctoring those exhibits.”

Walton took a break of about 35 minutes and said he needed to confer with a colleague on how to proceed.

When court resumed, Walton said he had no choice but to declare a mistrial. “There are rules that we play by and those rules are designed to make sure both sides receive a fair trial,” Walton said. Walton said that he was sorry that they had expended so much of the jury’s time and taxpayer money. In opening statements, Clemens’ defense attorney, Rusty Hardin, said that the government had used 103 law enforcement agents, five prosecutors, 229 investigative reports at 72 locations during the course of the investigation.  “I have to terminate the proceedings,” Walton said. “I apologize for what has transpired."

Clemens’ defense attorney, Rusty Hardin, patted Clemens on the arm after the mistrial was declared.
The pitching phenom walked out of the courtroom with little expression on his face and entered a small room to make phone calls. Judge Walton said that issues of double jeopardy might be at play and he has set a Sept. 2, 2011, hearing to decide if the government will be able to seek a retrial. A gag order is in place preventing the parties from openly commenting on the case until then. The prosecutors declined to comment as they left the courtroom. As they walked out of the courthouse, Hardin said, “All I can say is that it’s a beautiful day.” Clemens was mobbed by cameras and a few fans seeking autographs as he walked to a sandwich shop down the street from the courthouse.

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