Opening arguments for the trial for seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens have been pushed back to Wednesday, as the jury selection process is taking longer than expected.
Jury selection began on Wednesday, July 6, when Judge Reggie Walton went over an 82-page questionnaire with the first of two pools of 50 potential jurors, according to MLB.com.
Some prospective jurors were more critical of Congress for spending time investigating drugs in baseball than they were of the fact that Clemens lied to lawmakers about using performance enhancing drugs. Most of these candidates were excused, according to The Associated Press.
"Even members of Congress have lied to Congress and they have not been prosecuted," one of the excused panelists said, according to the AP.
The defense may be bolstered after indications that Walton may limit questions to Clemens' former teammates about injections of performance enhancing drugs they received from former Yankee trainer Brian McNamee, the government's star witness in the case.
Walton said he is not likely to allow prosecutors to question Clemens' former Yankee teammates Chuck Knoblauch, Mike Stanton and Andy Pettitte, on their receiving injections of steroids and performance enhancing drugs from McNamee. The men are expected to be called as witnesses by federal prosecutors in the trial, which is expected to last four to six weeks.
Clemens has said the injections were vitamin B12 and lidocaine. Walton said it may not be fair to Clemens to have the jury hear that all three of the teammates received performance enhancing drugs from McNamee.
"If he did not know what he is receiving? That's a real danger," Walton said about Clemens and his defense.
Clemens was indicted in August on charges of obstruction of Congress, perjury and false statements as a result of testimony he gave to Congress in a Feb. 5, 2008 deposition regarding use of performance enhancing drugs, specifically steroids and human growth hormone, or HGH. The perjury charges arose from his Feb. 13, 2008 testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Walton also limited Clemens' defense attorney's use of claims that McNamee was involved in an alleged rape and sexual assault in October 2001, when he was found in a pool with a woman who was incoherent. While McNamee was never charged in the incident, Clemens' defense team wanted to highlight that McNamee lied to police investigators about it.
The defense wants to impeach McNamee's credibility as the government's key witness, contending that McNamee was fearful of being linked to steroid dealer Kirk Radomski when federal investigators approached him in 2007.
Clemens' lawyers wanted to show that McNamee was trying to save his own skin when he named Clemens as someone who he had allegedly provided steroids. Judge Walton told the lawyers that the defense could only refer to the alleged rape investigation as a "criminal investigation" to the jury.
McNamee cooperated with investigators for the Mitchell Report, which examined steroids in baseball on behalf of Major League Baseball. McNamee's claims in the report that he injected Clemens with steroids and growth hormone in 1998, 2000 and 2001 were among its most significant revelations. The report led to congressional hearings with Clemens squaring off with McNamee.
One issue that could delay the trial is a defense request to obtain audio recordings of Clemens interviews in February 2008 with House investigators. Prosecutors plan to read portions of the transcript of the interview to the jury, but the defense wants the audio tapes to be played.
The issue is complicated by the fact that the recordings were made by the House Clerk's office. The transcripts were released when the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform asked that the transcripts be made available as part of their investigation, but the audio recordings were never released.
Walton said he had concerns about trying to get the recordings since they would be protected by the Speech and Debate clause, limiting the powers of the executive branch to compel Congress to take certain actions. Walton urged the prosecutors to see if the committee would request that the audio recordings be released.
"There is a lurking due process issue here -- not being able to hear the tone and voice [of Clemens]," Clemens' defense attorney Rusty Hardin said.