WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – A judge declared a mistrial yesterday in the perjury trial of baseball great Roger Clemens, because prosecutors violated an order that barred certain information from being introduced to the jury.
Judge Reggie Walton was furious at prosecutor Steven Durham for introducing evidence that appeared to bolster the credibility of a future witness, Clemens’ former teammate Andy Pettitte, and referred to Pettitte’s wife, Laura, after the judge issued an order that limited or barred such information.
“A first year law student would know that you can’t bolster the credibility of one witness with clearly inadmissible evidence,” Walton said, raising his voice in anger at Durham. “I don’t see how I unring the bell.”
The mistrial was a major setback for the government, which spent a year preparing the case. Four days were spent on selecting a jury.
Walton said the parties would have to discuss whether retrying Clemens would violate the constitutional protection against double jeopardy, which protects an individual from being tried twice for the same offenses.
A hearing on the double-jeopardy issue will be on Sept. 2 but no new possible trial date was set.
Durham had pressed Walton to instead instruct the jury to disregard the information which was presented in a video of the 2008 congressional testimony by Clemens to the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.