Lawyer question about Roger Clemens

I don’t understand why a mistrial was called. I don’t understand why the inadmissible evidence was deemed inadmissible.

The fact its been so hard to show the obvious, that baseball players use performance enhancing drugs, is disheartening. But hey, I never liked baseball and this only made me like it less.

I think there were two issues there. A more minor one was the Congressman saying that Andy Pettitte’s testimony is (would be) credible; credibility of the witness is to be determined by the jury. Having him be referred to credible before even being attacked, let alone put on the stand, would be improper bolstering.

The second issue appears that Laura Pettitte’s testimony would be inadmissible hearsay. Her testimony is reporting what her husband told her what Clemens told him. That’s two levels of hearsay right there, and at least one level, husband telling wife, I can’t think of a possible exception to make it admissible as substantive evidence. I think it would only be admissible to counter charges that Andy Pettitte was fabricating the story. Hence the line about it only being admissible on rebuttal.

Having never gone to trial, obviously, I don’t know all the procedures. The paragraph about the conversation at the bench suggests to me that despite hearing the two improper bits of evidence, the mistake could potentially have been cured by a proper instruction to the jury to ignore the evidence. However, because it was paused on an improper line (I guess captioning) during that whole conversation, and the jury was just sitting there looking at the line, it was deemed an incurable mistake. So, we get a mistrial.

tl;dr: Rules of Evidence. Bane of my existence. Procedural stuff.

I don’t think they sufficiently established what is the but-for

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What 984 said.

To elaborate, testifying that a witness is honest is called bolstering credibility. You can only do so if his credibility was attacked. Otherwise, the friends and relatives of every witness would spend hours vouching for his honesty. The prosecution showed a video of a U.S. Representative’s written comments about how trustworthy the prosecution’s key witness was–obviously not allowed.

These written comments were also hearsay. Hearsay consists of any statement made outside of court that is offered for its truth. In general, hearsay is not admissible because, when the speaker is absent, he cannot testify to prove his veracity and the accuracy of his memory and his perception of events, and cannot clear up ambiguities in his statements. The written comments were apparently offered to prove that the witness was honest–since they had no other relevance–so they were inadmissible hearsay.

If the judge feels the jury has heard too much inadmissible evidence, whether hearsay or witness-bolstering, he can declare a mistrial. This judge was pissed off. In his words, “I think that a first-year law student would know you can’t bolster the credibility of one witness with clearly inadmissible evidence.”

As an unanswered question, I would also think that double jeopardy does not preclude a new trial. It sounds like Clemens moved for the mistrial. If so, to bar a new trial, I’m fairly certain he would have to show that he was baited into moving for a mistrial due to the prosecution’s misconduct. That’s obviously a high standard. I’m a little bit fuzzy on if the judge issued the mistrial sua sponte, but I think in that were so, mistrial would preclude any new trial.

At least at the federal level.

Very interesting. I’ve considered going to law school, and find this stuff exciting. Maybe in my next life.

The average incoming age at NYU is about 26. Buy an LSAT prep book and see how you do.

I only took the LSAT because my girlfriend was doing it and I was curious.

A common statement in college.

Yeah, this basically summarizes my life.

Roger Clemens is rich and white. Mostly white. That’s really all you need to prove you’re innocent (or at least to cast enough doubt to end in mistrial) in most cases in the US.