Pettitte the key
Add another strikeout victim to Roger Clemens' career tally: The U.S. Government.
The judge just declared a mistrial in the perjury case against the polarizing baseball icon and will hear arguments on whether allowing a second trial would constitute double jeopardy. Yes, after just two days (not even) of trial, The Rocket could find himself completely off the hook.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton ruled that federal prosecutors violated his evidence orders and essentially introduced evidence he had not allowed — or at least let the jury see it — when a videotape that referenced a conversation Clemens' former Houston Astros and New York Yankees' teammate Andy Pettitte had with his wife was left on in full view of the 10-women and two-men jury. In the conversation, Pettitte says that he told his wife Laura that Clemens told him he used steroids.
The video that the jury could see showed a transcript of statements from U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings. In the transcript, Cummings talks about how Laura Pettitte says that her husband told her that Clemens informed him he used steroids and Cummings finds that statement very credible.
Clemens, of course, infamously denied using steroids or HGH while testifying in front of Congress.
Walton had already said he was leaning toward not allowing Laura Pettitte to testify. By showing the tape, he believes that prosecutors tainted the carefully-chosen jury. Prosecutors had been tasked with redacting such statements. They said the videotape was left running inadvertently. The judge was not moved by that however.
"I don't see how I can un-ring the bell," Walton said before announcing his ruling.
It all adds up to another embarrassing blow for the government in its campaign against baseball stars who it believes perjured themselves on the stand by denying they used steroids under oath — following Barry Bonds' "win" (a conviction on obstructing justice, but a deadlock dismissal on the much-more-serious perjury charges) in court. Now, Clemens' Houston-based attorney Rusty Hardin has another early win — even if the case could still be revived. Hardin made a point to say that he did like the jury that had to be dismissed because of the mistrial, perhaps setting up part of his argument on why allowing another trial would constitute double jeopardy.
The sides will be back in court on Sept 2 to present arguments on whether a second trial should be allowed.