Can’t Un-Ring A Bell- Prosecution of Roger Clemens Ends in Mistrial

14 Jul

In a prosecution that has made headlines because the defendant is famed baseball pitcher Roger Clemens and the witnesses are a number of other famous athletes, an unexpected ending occurred—a mistrial was declared.  The trial is the culmination of millions of dollars in preparation by the government and a pinnacle of the investigation and punishment for steroids in baseball. 

A mistrial is declared when a judge determines that there has been an error in the case of such weight that the case can’t proceed fairly.  In this case, after a pre-trial ruling establishing that the testimony of Laura Pettitte (Andy Pettitte’s wife) was not admissible, the prosecution introduced a video in which her affidavit was front and center and left the video up on courtroom monitors.  In other words, the very evidence that the judge had excluded was being shown to the jury.  The prosecution requested that the jury just be asked to ignore the video evidence, but Federal District Court Judge Reggie Walton said “I don’t see how I can unring the bell.”

With all due respect to the prosecution, this underscores the importance of recognizing the judge’s authority in the courtroom and the need to present your case within the bounds established by him or her. 

For more on the story, see the Wall Street Journal article here

This blog entry is written by Chris Renz, a shareholder at Thomsen Nybeck. Chris practices in the litigation area of the firm with primary focus on  real estate litigation, employment litigation, townhome and condominium law, and criminal law, particularly as the prosecutor for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

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