The judge in the retrial of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens today walked potential jurors through a list of 86 questions that they were required to respond to, ranging from their interest in sports and baseball, to their thoughts about steroids and human growth hormone, and what they think about Congress.
Several potential jurors said they believed performance enhancing drugs were widely used in professional sports but that the issue would not prevent them from giving Clemens a fair trial.
Clemens was indicted in August 2010 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 deposition on Feb. 5, 2008. The perjury charges arose from his Feb. 13, 2008 testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton declared a mistrial in the case in July after only two days of testimony when prosecutors included portions of Clemens’ February 2008 congressional testimony that referred to conversations former Yankee teammate Andy Pettitte had with his wife, Laura Pettitte, about the use of HGH.
Walton had barred the prosecutors from referring to Pettitte’s wife before the jury.
Several of the jurors questioned today said they were aware that there had been a mistrial in the case as a result of some trouble over evidence in the case.
Two potential jurors said they felt Congress has more important issues to deal with than steroids in baseball.
“There as lot more current problems that should be dealt with,” a potential male juror told Walton today. “I found it a little bit ridiculous Congress is doing this.
“The whole process is a little bit wasteful,” the man said.
A woman who works for a conservation group said that although she thought the Congressional hearings were not that pertinent, everyone should testify truthfully.
The woman said she was a fan of baseball and had attended about 20 major league games. Several potential jurors said they didn’t like baseball or follow sports.
Clemens sat seated at a table with his defense lawyers dressed in a blue-gray suit and tie.
When the pool of jurors was brought into a room where they all listened to Walton’s instructions, Clemens stood before them all when he was asked to identify himself.
“Good morning,” he said.
Clemens’ defense lawyers are expected to try to create doubt about the government’s evidence. At the final pretrial motions hearing Friday, Clemens’ defense attorney Rusty Hardin said he had serious questions about chain of custody issues over gauze pads and syringes that Clemens’ former trainer Brian McNamee kept after allegedly injecting Clemens with human growth hormone.
As the new trial approaches, Hardin is preparing to question the credibility of McNamee, the government’s star witness in the case. He is likely to raise questions about how McNamee kept the syringes and gauze pads he allegedly used to inject Clemens before providing them to government investigators. During opening statements in the first trial, Hardin told the jury that McNamee “manufactured” the evidence.
At the final pre-trial hearing, Hardin objected to a request by the prosecution to file a sealed secret document that would not be publicly available until later in the trial. The Justice Department prosecutors said they did not want the information to come out close to jury selection and that it would be released later.
“What the government has done, is two weeks before the trial listed eight things…that should not be in public.” Hardin said. “This can be dealt with in jury selection.”
“They are seeking to protect their key witness.” He further argued before the Judge.
Hardin and Clemens other defense lawyer Michael Attanasio alluded during the hearing that the information concerns an alleged sexual assault in October 2001 that McNamee was involved in. That case was still being resolved in a Florida court.
In an effort to bolster their case two additional prosecutors from the Justice Department have joined the original three prosecutors who previously tried the case. The testimony of Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte, who is making a comeback this year to baseball, is expected to be a key prosecution witness. Pettitte is expected to testify about his use of HGH in 2002 and 2004 and that Clemens told him he used HGH.
During the hearing on Friday Hardin said that in the time between the mistrial was declared last July the government has carried out an additional 50 other interviews. Hardin complained before Judge Walton that this was unfair and that the “new information was gained through their own misconduct.”
Clemens has stated that the injections he received from McNamee were vitamin b12 and lidocaine. The trial is expected to last 6 weeks, opening arguments could begin next week after the jury of 12 people and four alternates are selected.