Roger Clemens Trial: Judge Declares Mistrial After Government Introduces Inadmissible Evidence

The Roger Clemens trial has come to an abrupt and unexpected end, with Judge Reggie Walton declaring a mistrial because the government introduced evidence previously ruled inadmissible.

The mistrial surrounds video shown during the testimony of Congressional staffer Phil Barnett. As Barnett was testifying as to the legitimacy of the 2008 hearing, the government was showing video from the hearing. At one point they showed video of Rep. Elijah Cummings questioning Clemens, during which Cummings read from the affidavit of Laura Pettitte, Andy Pettitte's wife.

In the affidavit, Laura mentioned that Andy had told her Clemens told him he used HGH. During pretrial hearings, Judge Walton had ruled this inadmissible because it was double hearsay. The first level of hearsay was Clemens telling Pettiitte and the second level of hearsay was Pettitte telling his wife. Hearsay is a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Hearsay is inadmissible unless one of a number of exceptions apply. In this case, no such exception was allowed and it was ruled inadmissible.

By introducing the inadmissible content, the government ran afoul of Judge Walton's ruling. Defense attorney Rusty Hardin moved for a mistrial on the grounds that the bell could not be "un-rung" even if Judge Walton issued an instruction to the jury to disregard. Judge Walton agreed and viewed this as a direct violation of his pretrial ruling. He officially declared a mistrial, although he said the government could re-introduce the case to a new jury. I have to believe the government will seek new charges, but they haven't announced that yet.

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