Roger Clemens' Mistrial: Was It a Good or Bad Thing?

Rich StoweAnalyst IIIJuly 15, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 14:  Baseball pitching star Roger Clemens (C), flanked by members of his defense team, leaves the U.S. District Court after the judge declared a mistrial, on July 14, 2011 in Washington, DC. The judge presiding over Clemens' perjury trial declared a mistrial over statements introduced to the jury by the prosecutor that were not suppose to be heard. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was on trial for making false statements, perjury and obstructing Congress when he testified about steroid use during a February 2008 inquiry by the House Oversight and Government Affairs. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton declared a mistrial in the Roger Clemens trial on perjury charges and now we'll have to wait and see if he can even be tried again.

I'm not so sure the mistrial was the best thing for Roger Clemens.  Yes, chances are "double jeopardy" will be attached so he won't be able to be tried again, so that is a good thing for Clemens (no jail time etc,.).  However, without going to trial and proving his innocence, he will never be able to clear his name.

I don't think he would have been able to clear his name no matter the verdict.  A "not guilty" verdict in a trial doesn't necessarily mean the person didn't do what he was charged with, it simply means the jury believed one set of lawyers more than the other. 

A "not guilty" verdict also probably wouldn't have changed the public opinion regarding whether Clemens used performance enhancing drugs or not (just look at the resulting public opinion of O.J. Simpson or Casey Anthony when they were found "not guilty").  The same goes for "guilty" verdict.

That's the problem with our justice system; without a smoking gun or a non-coerced confession, most trials in my opinion, come down solely to which side the jurors believe more, not actual guilt or innocence.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 14:  Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens leaves the U.S. District Court after the judge declared a mistrial, on July 14, 2011 in Washington, DC. The judge presiding over Clemens' perjury trial declared a mistrial over
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Roger Clemens has been in a no-win situation since his name was mentioned in The Mitchell Report.  If he didn't go to Congress and testify, people would have said he was guilty because he wasn't fighting to clear his name.  If he did go and said the wrong things (whether knowingly lying or someone later provides "evidence"), he could be charged with perjury (and that's what happened).

No matter what happens in regards to the trial happening again or not, Clemens, just like Barry Bonds, has been deemed guilty by the public and more than likely by the Hall of Fame voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).  Regardless of the outcome of the trial, nothing was going to change that fact and it would have only served to further prove to the believers of either camp that they are right.

Clemens's only hope is that the judge says he can't be tried again so he can avoid jail time and that over time, the Steroid Era in baseball is judged differently by the Hall of Fame and by baseball fans alike so that the great career he did have has its place in history solidified.

In my opinion, he won't be tried again and it is going to take at least 15 or more years from now for baseball history to judge the Steroid Era in the same regards as "the greenie era" is judged; as simply part of the game.  Players like Bonds and Clemens will be in the Hall of Fame one day because their illegal use of performance enhancing drugs will eventually be treated like the amphetamine use of players from the 1960s and 1970s are today.