Clemens jury includes 10 women, two men
Opening statements scheduled for today
WASHINGTON - The real drama in the Roger Clemens perjury trial begins today with opening statements before a jury of 10 women and two men. The panel includes a yoga teacher and lawyer who called US drug laws “a bit heavy-handed,’’ a Philadelphia Eagles fan who believes Michael Vick was “done wrong,’’ a first cousin of former Orioles outfielder and Red Sox coach Al Bumbry, and a retired mason with a son and daughter-in-law who are D.C. police officers. Ten jurors are African-American and two are white. And most of the jurors seated revealed during questioning they did not know of Clemens or did not know much about him.
With jury selection completed after four days, all involved are eager to proceed. During discussions in court yesterday, attorneys for both sides provided previews of how they expect the trial will unfold.
The defense will challenge whether Congress investigating if the pitcher used performance-enhancing drugs was proper. Clemens attorney Michael Attanasio claimed the February 2008 hearing held by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee improperly concerned itself with the credibility of Clemens and his longtime trainer Brian McNamee and competing versions of events. McNamee said he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone. Clemens told Congress he has never taken performance enhancing drugs.
The seven-time Cy Young winner has been charged with perjury, false statements, and obstruction of Congress.
“We’re going to have a mini-trial on whether Roger Clemens went swimming,’’ said Attanasio, referring to a pool party at Jose Canseco’s. “We’re going to have a trial in US District Court, Congress is going to have a hearing on these things? That’s our point.’’
McNamee claims he saw Clemens at the pool party talking to Canseco and another man, then upon returning to Canada the pitcher asked the trainer to inject him with steroids for the first time. Clemens has said he did not attend the party.
Representing the government, assistant US attorney Daniel Butler said the committee had responsibilities that stretched beyond legislation, identifying steroids in baseball as a drug issue. Ultimately, it is up to the jury to decide.
Despite Judge Reggie Walton deciding to continue the jury selection process yesterday morning to ensure an ideal number of four alternates, the final 12-member jury was seated late yesterday afternoon.
During the juror questioning process, both sides reviewed lengthy lists of potential witnesses. Barry Bonds and Canseco, along with Mark McGwire, Andy Pettitte, and Sammy Sosa are listed. The lists contain many with Red Sox ties. They included Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, former team physician William Morgan, former medical director Arthur Pappas, former trainer Charlie Moss, former director of major league operations Steve August and medical operations coordinator Jim Rowe. The people listed may not testify but be referenced during what is expected to be a trial that could last up to six weeks.
Lead Clemens attorney Rusty Hardin explained to some potential jurors why Clemens’s wife, Debbie, was not present for yesterday, noting family obligations in Houston. Then, he mentioned that Debbie Clemens would be called as a witness and, like other witnesses, could only be present during her testimony.
In other Clemens family matters, Walton raised concerns about a report that some of Clemens’s relatives are “disseminating information that’s disparaging to people who are going to testify in the case.’’ Clemens’s sister, Janet Johnson, took to Twitter, disparaging McNamee, Pettitte, and Pettitte’s father for their involvement with performance enhancing drugs. Her daughter, Kirbie Johnson, took a not-so-subtle shot at McNamee in a blog entry, though she did not name the trainer.
“I guess I don’t have authority over anybody who’s not before this court,’’ said Walton, who previously instituted a gag order prohibiting participants from public comment.
Walton later added that he found “the shot taken at Mr. Pettitte’s father most disturbing.’’
“I have not seen it,’’ said Hardin of the all that had been written. “It’s been extremely difficult for Mr. Clemens to put up with what some of the bloggers are saying. My guess is it’s in response to that. In my 37 years, I’ve never had a client talked about - Twitter, social media, everything - the way they have [Clemens].’’
Shira Springer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.