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Prosecutors had wanted to call Laura Pettitte as a witness to back up her husband's account because she says her husband told her about the conversation the day it happened. But Walton had said Laura Pettitte's statement wasn't admissible since it didn't involve direct knowledge of what Clemens said.
In the video prosecutors showed the jury, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., referred to Pettitte's conversation with his wife during the questioning of Clemens. Walton quickly cut off the tape and called attorneys to the bench for a private conversation for several minutes. The video remained frozen on the screen in front of jurors with a transcript of what was being said on the bottom.
Cummings had been quoting from Laura Pettitte's affidavit to the committee. "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," the text on the screen read.
The judge eventually told the jurors to leave while he discussed the issue with attorneys in open court. Hardin asked for a mistrial, while prosecutors suggested the problem could be fixed with an instruction to the jury to disregard the evidence. Walton responded that they could never know what impact the evidence would have during the jury's deliberations.
"I don't see how I un-ring the bell," he said.
"Government counsel should have been more cautious," Walton said, raising his voice and noting that the case had already cost a lot of taxpayer money.
"I think that a first-year law student would know that you can't bolster the credibility of one witness with clearly inadmissible evidence," Walton said.
He said it was the second time that prosecutors had gone against his orders. The other occurred during opening arguments Wednesday when assistant U.S. attorney Steven Durham said Pettitte and two other of Clemens' New York teammates, Chuck Knoblauch and Mike Stanton, had used human growth hormone.
Walton said in pre-trial hearings that such testimony could lead jurors to consider Clemens guilty by association. Clemens' defense attorney objected when Durham made the statement Wednesday and Walton told jurors to disregard Durham's comments about other players.
Joshua Berman, a white collar defense lawyer who used to work with Durham and Butler when he was at the Justice Department, said both men have excellent reputations as ethical and responsible attorneys.
"I think that mistakes get made, frankly, and they get made in every trial on both sides," Berman said. "Unfortunately here you are on Day One of a very high-profile trial."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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