It has no serious effect. The publicity and the furor pose difficulties in selecting a jury in San Francisco. Because of the now pervasive notion of a steroid era in baseball, many potential jurors might be biased against Bonds. But in a criminal trial involving a celebrity, impartial jurors are found. It is always surprising to learn how many citizens have little or no knowledge about what is viewed as a major public issue.
Can players such as Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada sue Mitchell and MLB because of what was said about them in the Mitchell report?
Yes. Anyone can file a lawsuit any time they want. But any player who files a libel lawsuit over the allegations made in the report would be in for a host of difficulties. He would have to show that Mitchell was wrong and that he formed his conclusion because of malice toward the player. It is a burden of proof that is always difficult, and can be impossible. If Clemens, for example, were to file suit, he would have to be able to destroy the credibility of his own former trainer, Brian McNamee. Clemens would have to persuade a jury that McNamee lied about him in an effort to avoid a jail sentence. MLB would fight vigorously against any challenges to the Mitchell conclusions. Any player who wants to sue faces a major litigation war.
Mitchell frequently relied on people who told him what other people said -- for example, someone told Mitchell that someone else knew something about steroids. Is that hearsay? Is it legal?
Yes, it is hearsay. And, yes, it can be legal. Hearsay evidence is used in United States courtrooms thousands of times each day. Although there is a rule that prohibits the use of hearsay evidence, there are many exceptions to the rule. Law students spend weeks learning these exceptions. The rules are designed to prohibit unreliable evidence. The rules are not perfect, but they're the best we have. If Bonds told someone he used steroids, and then that person told Mitchell about it, then, yes, Mitchell could use the evidence. Bonds' statement is an exception to the hearsay rule. The legal term for it is "admission against interest," a statement that is likely true because it is contrary to the interest of the person making the statement. Someone might question the weight and value of such evidence, but it is evidence that can be used.
If Selig punishes players named in Mitchell's report, will that action lead to criminal prosecutions of the players?
Probably not. As Mitchell explained in his press conference, most law enforcement agencies, whether state or federal, are not always focused on just prosecuting the user of drugs. They want to devote resources to prosecuting sellers or wholesale distributors of drugs. There is, as Mitchell said, no record anywhere of any player in any sport being prosecuted for use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Mitchell said the owners and players were slow to diagnose and respond to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Do their failures result in legal limitations on what they can do now?