The judge declared a mistrial today in Roger Clemens' perjury case after prosecutors showed jurors evidence that was previously ruled inadmissible.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said the prosecutors had made a grave error and that the baseball legend could no longer be assured a fair trial.
Walton scheduled a September 2 hearing to determine whether to hold a new trial, but the jurors were dismissed and the case is off - for now.
Roger Clemens was indicted for perjury for allegedly lying to Congress during a 2008 investigation into performance-enhancing drug use in the sport.
He is not being charged with using drugs, per se, but for knowingly false testimony he allegedly gave involving his use of the substances years ago.
This morning, in the second day of testimony, the judge interrupted prosecutors' playing of a video from his 2008 testimony before Congress.
The jury was removed from the room. When they returned, they were dismissed, and the judge issued the following explanation of why:"There are rules that we play by and those rules are designed to make sure both sides receive a fair trial. If this man got convicted, he would go to jail."
Because prosecutors broke his rules, "the ability with Mr. Clemens with this jury to get a fair trial with this jury would be very difficult if not impossible."
Prosecutors suggested the problem could have been fixed with an instruction to the jury to disregard the evidence, but Walton seemed skeptical.
He said he could never know what impact the evidence would have during the jury's deliberations "when we've got a man's liberty at interest."
"I don't see how we un-ring the bell," he said.
Defense attorney Rusty Hardin patted an unsmiling Clemens on the back as the judge announced his decision. Clemens did not speak to reporters.
Clemens and his lawyers remain under a court gag order and they declined to comment as they left. "I'm not going to say anything," he said.