For those of you interested in the world of sports, an interesting development took place this week in the trial regarding former baseball great, Roger Clemens. It has long been suspected that Clemens used Performance-Enhancing Supplements to aid his training and performance during his career, and this week, Clemens was to stand trial for perjuring himself to the Grand Jury for having denied these claims.
Here’s where it gets ugly. The prosecution committed what can only be considered a massive “rookie mistake” in attempting to pin the charges on Clemens. (In baseball terms, think a “balk” or a “wild pitch”). The prosecution presented evidence to the jury that had already been deemed inadmissible by the U.S. District Judge, Reggie Walton. The evidence was an affidavit by (Clemens’ former teammate) Andy Pettite’s wife regarding Andy confiding in her that Clemens had used HGH (Human Growth Hormone).
The evidence is hearsay and is never admissible in court. At the time it was presented, Judge Walton asked the jurors to leave the courtroom such that the issue could be discussed in open court. Clemens’ lawyer, Rusty Hardin, asked for a mistrial, while the prosecution suggested that a simple instruction to the jury to disregard the evidence would suffice. Ultimately, Judge Walton deemed that the impact the evidence could potentially have on the jurors could not be determined, and, as such, it would be impossible to know whether or not Clemens would receive a fair trial.
When the prosecution once again attempted to admit the evidence, Judge Walton was – as you might expect – thoroughly unimpressed. In his words, as quoted in the attached story, “Government counsel should have been more cautious. I think a first-year law student would know that you can’t bolster the credibility of one witness with clearly inadmissible evidence.”
The next steps are unknown, and a hearing will occur in September to determine if Clemens will be re-tried. Stay tuned, sports fans!