After years of defiance and denial in the face of accusations of using performance enhancing drugs, Roger Clemens hit a home run Thursday when U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton declared the case of perjury against the former MLB pitcher a mistrial.
In what has been a whirlwind of a case regarding performance enhancing drug use in professional baseball, the U.S. judicial system struck out again as prosecutors made a huge mistake in the second day of testimony against former baseball star Roger Clemens.
After being ordered by Walton to not use specific evidence in front of the jury, the prosecution went ahead and showed a video that backed claims by Clemens' former teammate Andy Pettitte, who said that Clemens told him he had used steroids in 1999 or 2000.
Clemens was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with perjury after allegedly making false statements to Congress about his use of performance enhancing drugs in a February 2008 testimony.
Pettitte was already prepared to take the stand against Clemens, who had allegedly told him he had used human growth hormone (HGH) sometime in 1999 or 2000, but the judge dismissed Pettitte's wife's testimony in the pre-trial hearings, saying that she did not speak to Clemens directly.
Instead, the prosecution played a video of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. quoting the statement that Pettitte's wife had given in the 2008 Congressional hearing, which stated: "I, Laura Pettitte, do depose and state, in 1999 or 2000, Andy told me he had a conversation with Roger Clemens in which Roger admitted to him using human growth hormones."
Walton immediately stopped the video and called attorneys to the bench for a quick word, before telling the jury to leave and declaring a mistrial, on the basis that Clemens was no longer guaranteed a fair trial since the prosecution decided to present the inadmissible evidence against his orders.
"There are rules that we play by and those rules are designed to make sure both sides receive a fair trial," Walton told the jury. "If this man got convicted, he would go to jail."
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner has defied all accusations against him, even after former Yankees trainer Brian McNamee admitted to injecting Clemens with steroids in 1998, 1999, and 2001. Clemens pleaded not guilty in August 2010 to two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements, and one count of obstruction of Congress.
In the December 2007 Mitchell Report released by former U.S Senator George Mitchell, Clemens' name was mentioned 82 times regarding steroid use, and even former Major Leaguer José Canseco accused Clemens of having expert knowledge on the subject.
Clemens has appeared on 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace to tell his side of the story, stating that his success in baseball was the result of hard work, and not illegal substances. He then filed a defamation lawsuit against McNamee for allegedly lying in order to avoid prosecution.
Clemens also released a video on YouTube in 2007 denying the allegations against him by McNamee, and calling the statements about him in the Mitchell Report to be "simply not true".
After millions of taxpayer dollars spent on the trial, Walton set a new trial date for Sept. 2, but admitted that proceeding with a fair trial for Clemens would be difficult, if not impossible now that the evidence has been shown in court.
The case also runs the risk of being deemed double-jeopardy, in which Clemens cannot be tried for the same crime twice, and could escape the allegations without any legal repercussions.