The trial for seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens begins Wednesday with jury selection, and the defense may be bolstered after indications that Judge Reggie Walton may limit questions to Clemens' former Yankee teammates about injections of performance enhancing drugs they received from former Yankee trainer Brian McNamee, the government's star witness in the case.
Judge Walton said that he is not likely to allow prosecutors to question Clemens' former Yankee teammates Chuck Knoblauch, Mike Stanton and Andy Pettitte, that they received injections of steroids and performance enhancing drugs from McNamee. The men are expected to be called as witnesses by federal prosecutors in the trial, expected to last four to six weeks. Clemens has stated that 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 last August on charges of obstruction of Congress, perjury and false statements as a result of testimony he gave to Congress regarding use of performance enhancing drugs, specifically steroids and human growth hormone, or HGH. Clemens is charged with making the false statements to congressional investigators in a Feb. 5, 2008 deposition. The perjury charges arose from his Feb. 13, 2008 testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Judge Walton also limited Clemens defense attorney's use of claims that Brian McNamee was involved in an alleged rape and sexual assault in October 2001 when McNamee 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.
With jury selection expected to last several days, 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. Judge Walton said he had concerns about trying to get them since the recordings 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. Clemens' defense attorney Rusty Hardin said: "There is a lurking due process issue here--not being able to hear the tone and voice [of Mr. Clemens.]"
Jury selection begins tomorrow, opening arguments are scheduled for July 11.