WASHINGTON — Roger Clemens stood and uttered “Morning” to the 90 potential jurors who had gathered in the ornate, sixth-floor ceremonial courtroom. After he sat down, he swiveled his chair, as if trying to make eye contact with as many as possible.
Some of those looking back had no idea who he was. Others, including two who survived the first cut, wondered whether it was a waste of taxpayer time and money that got him to this point.
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was back in court Monday in the government’s second attempt to prove he misled a House committee at a landmark drugs-and-sports hearing in 2008. The first trial in July ended in a mistrial when prosecutors introduced inadmissible evidence after only two witnesses had been called.
One potential juror said he felt “it was a little bit ridiculous” when Congress held hearings on drug use in sports because he felt the government should have been focusing on bigger problems. Nevertheless, the native of Chile – an investment officer for an international bank – was asked to return, the only male to remain in the jury pool among those who were individually screened on the first day.
Another potential juror recalled the 2008 hearing by saying: “At the time, I remember thinking it didn’t seem to be a great use of taxpayer money.” She was kept in the pool after she said she could be impartial.
Another potential juror was excused after she volunteered: “I don’t know if that’s the best use of government tax dollars at this time.” She said her feelings could influence her ability to serve.
Clemens lawyer Rusty Hardin hinted that perhaps the defense might challenge Congress’ authority to call the hearing, but U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton was skeptical of that line of questioning. He reminded lawyers again that some of the jurors from the first trial felt a retrial would be a waste of taxpayer money, adding that one of the hurdles in the case is that some people think “we have some significant problems in this country that are not being addressed by this Congress.”
By the end of the day, only 13 potential jurors had been screened and just seven had been asked to return Wednesday for more screening.
Three District of Columbia residents – all black females – made the cut after saying they had never heard of Clemens. “I’m not a fan of sports – period,” said one prospect, who works as a cashier at a grocery store.
The retrial is expected to last four to six weeks.