Prosecutors really want to nail Roger Clemens in his retrial. Could that hurt their case?
This is an article from the April 23, 2012 issue
If only Roger Clemens's return to Washington, D.C., were as triumphant as his last major comeback, in May 2007, when the pitcher's final unretirement was cheered wildly at Yankee Stadium. Instead, Clemens was back in the nation's capital on Monday for the jury-selection phase of his second federal perjury trial, following his federal grand jury indictment, on six felony counts, in August '10.
The latest trial comes nine months after U.S. District Court judge Reggie Walton stopped the original trial, just two days in, because, he ruled, prosecutors had introduced inadmissible evidence.
Then why do it again? This time around the government has devoted resources to nailing Clemens that might make even a Steinbrenner blush, increasing the size of its prosecutorial team from two to five. They will try—again—to prove that in February '08 Clemens twice lied to Congress when he insisted that he took vitamin B-12, but never steroids or HGH, as alleged in the December '07 Mitchell Report. During what is expected to be a four-to-six-week trial, prosecutors will rely heavily on the pitcher's former trainer Brian McNamee, who will likely testify that he injected Clemens with steroids and HGH on numerous occasions, as well as on physical evidence, including used gauze and syringes that McNamee kept.
After its seven-year investigation of Barry Bonds resulted in the former slugger's conviction last year on just one count, and a sentence of 30 days confined to his Beverly Hills mansion, the government knows that Clemens might represent the last chance to pin a major steroidal pelt to the wall. If they nail him, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner would likely face 15 to 21 months in prison. Whether the government's vigor works in its favor in this case, however, remains to be seen. It was reported last week that some jurors from the abortive first trial felt that a retrial would be a waste of taxpayers' money.