WASHINGTON — The Roger Clemens perjury retrial could turn into an ad hoc forum on the general problem of drug use in baseball, depending on the outcome of the latest lawyers’ spat over the landmark congressional hearing that eventually landed the seven-time Cy Young Award winner in court.
As jury selection inched forward Thursday – the panel was narrowed to 36, and opening arguments were set for Monday afternoon – the government responded to plans by Clemens’ lawyers to challenge whether the 2008 hearing in which Clemens testified was a “competent tribunal.”
Fine, responded the government. If the defense does that, prosecutors should be able to introduce all sorts of evidence to show why Congress called the hearing. In a filing with the court, the government said it should be allowed to have testimony about “drug use by other major league players,” including “more detailed testimony regarding the use of steroids by Jose Canseco” as well as testimony related to teenage suicides attributed to steroid use.
“Put simply: defendant cannot have it both ways,” the government’s filing said.
Clemens’ lawyer, Rusty Hardin, has indicated throughout the week that he plans to raise doubts about the hearing. Hardin told one prospective juror: “There’s going to be a challenge by the defense as to the propriety of the hearing. … and the way it was conducted.”
At the same time, Clemens’ team doesn’t want its client to be a victim of any
sort of “guilt by association” with other players. His lawyers have already asked the court to bar former teammate
Andy Pettitte from testifying that he received human growth hormone from Brian McNamee, the same trainer who says he injected Clemens with steroids and HGH.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton is expected to hear oral arguments on both motions Monday. He had hoped to rule on the Pettitte matter Thursday, but the time-consuming jury selection took up the entire court day before the session was cut short to attend a previously scheduled engagement.