By Terry Yates
Roger “The Rocket” Clemens, one of the most feared and accomplished pitchers in baseball history, is on trial contesting criminal accusations that he lied to Congress about using performance enhancing drugs.
Clemens is accused of lying at the 2008 congressional hearing, during which he vehemently denied that he ever used performance-enhancing drugs during the 24 years he played in the majors. He was indicted by a District of Columbia grand jury on six perjury-related counts.
The trial of The United States of America vs. William R. Clemens has is narrowing the jury panel to 36 people. It took almost four days of painfully tedious questioning, but prosecutors, defense attorneys and the judge who is presiding over Clemens’ trial finally found three dozen candidates who appear to be qualified to sit on the former Yankee pitcher’s jury. Many of the prospective jurors seemed ambivalent about doping in sports and this case in particular.
The case will feature Clemens against his former trainer, Brian McNamee and his (former) good friend Andy Pettitte. McNamee testified he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone several times.
Judge Walton, who declared a mistrial, last year when prosecutors showed jurors evidence he had previously excluded, also said he expects opening statements will begin Monday.
The judge still has to give the defense team an opportunity to explain why the pitcher’s former teammate, Andy Pettitte, should not be allowed to testify that he received human growth hormone from Brian McNamee, Clemens’ former trainer.
Clemens’ defense team argued in papers filed with the court this week that Pettitte’s testimony would unfairly suggest Clemens was guilty by association. Prosecutors argued in court on Wednesday that Pettitte’s testimony would provide crucial information to Clemens’ alleged steroid “narrative.”
Judge Walton also has to rule on a defense motion filed on Tuesday that raised questions about the legitimacy of the 2008 congressional hearing on Major League Baseball’s Mitchell Report. Hardin and his colleagues said the hearing was not a “competent tribunal” because the panel that held it, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, did not act with a specific legislative purpose.
The trial will take several weeks. It is doubtful that it will change anyone’s mind about whether they believe Clemens did in fact use performance enhancing drugs. If convicted, Clemens will probably spend some time in Federal prison. While a majority of the public may have had it fill of this case, and consider it a complete waste of time, the trial should be entertaining.