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Clemens family upsets judge with social media use

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  July 12, 2011 03:33 PM

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WASHINGTON -- Members of Roger Clemens’ family have upset Judge Reggie B. Walton with recent social medial use.

At the end of the morning session of Clemens' perjury trial, Walton raised concerns about a report that some Clemens’ relatives are “disseminating information that’s disparaging to people who are going to testify in the case.” Walton previously instituted a gag order prohibiting participants from public comment. Walton hoped that no one associated with the case was responsible for or connected to a recent blog entry and tweets critical of some witnesses for the prosecution. Clearly, it would not look good if Clemens was somehow behind the disparaging information.

A report in the New York Daily News mentioned tweets from Clemens’ sister, Janet Johnson, and blog entries from Johnson’s daughter, Kirbie Johnson. Janet Johnson took to Twitter, disparaging Brian McNamee as a liar and attacking Andy Pettitte and his father for their involvement with performance-enhancing drugs. Kirbie Johnson also took a shot at McNamee, albeit without mentioning the name of the trainer, who has said he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.

Instead, she wrote “if a drug dealer gets in the media and makes claims against another person, people listen to this person as if they were reading the gospel, when the fact is that the person is a DRUG DEALER!”

Because they are not involved in the proceedings, the statements made by the Johnsons don’t violate the gag order. But they did anger the judge.

“I guess I don’t have authority over anybody who’s not before this court,” said Walton. “I commend counsel for complying with the gag order. But it doesn’t help the process if that information is being disseminated.”

Walton later added the he found “the shot taken at Mr. Pettitte’s father most disturbing.”

When it was mentioned that Clemens’ sister and son might be behind some of the information, lead defense attorney Rusty Hardin addressed the court.

“I have not seen it,” said Hardin. “I’m still not aware of it. I’d be surprised if it was his son … 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].”

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