Posted: Jul 13, 2011 9:38 AM by Lauren Wilson & AP
WASHINGTON (AP) - The prosecutor leading the case against baseball's Roger Clemens told a federal jury Wednesday that the government will prove the former pitching star knowingly lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs.
Assistant U.S. attorney Steven Dunham said that about 45 witnesses, including several of Clemens' former teammates, will help make the case against him.
"We will prove that Mr. Clemens ... used anabolic steroids and human growth hormone," Dunham said. When Clemens denied the use in 2008, Dunham said, "It was false and he knew it was false."
Clemens maintains that he didn't use drugs during a 24-season career that set several pitching records.
In preliminary discussions before the jury of 10 women and two men arrived, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton reacted sharply when Clemens' lead lawyer, Rusty Hardin, appeared to refer to the proceedings as a "circus."
"This is not a circus," Walton said.
Hardin quickly assured the judge he was talking more broadly about the congressional hearings at the heart of the case, as well as the prosecution. "Do I look suicidal?" Hardin said.
Clemens' other principal lawyer, Michael Attanasio, said Tuesday that the defense will begin by questioning whether the House of Representatives' investigation into whether Clemens used drugs was a proper legislative inquiry. The defense argues it was not because it didn't concern legislation and aired a personal dispute between Clemens and the trainer who accused Clemens of using.
The jury took shape after four days of questioning by Walton and lawyers. Both sides seemed to want to start with a blank slate. Most of the jurors picked said they knew little about baseball or Clemens.
When one woman said during questioning that she didn't know a thing about the sport, Hardin responded, "That's a plus."
The jurors were told to avoid news and sports programs. They can read newspapers that have been screened at the courthouse to remove any reference to the case.
To keep the panel from encountering the dozens of journalists at the courthouse, the judge told them they will meet off site each day, ride a bus to a back entrance and use nonpublic corridors. They will be served breakfast and lunch in what was once a judge's chambers so they don't have to use the same cafeteria as reporters, lawyers and Clemens.
Clemens watched final jury selection but didn't weigh in and left it to his lawyers to pick who will decide his fate.
Attanasio argued before the jury was seated that the hearing held by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in February 2008 had nothing to do with Congress' responsibility for legislation.
The hearing, he said, was only concerned with airing a "credibility contest" between Clemens and his longtime trainer, Brian McNamee, who said he injected the pitcher with steroids and human growth hormone.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Butler responded that the committee has responsibility for oversight that is broad and goes beyond legislation.
He said steroid use in baseball is a drug matter, and pointed out that a 2005 hearing into the issue led to legislation to regulate steroids. It also led Major League Baseball to commission a report by former Sen. George Mitchell into the extent of the problem in the league. Clemens was named as a user in the report.
Walton said if "one of the icons of baseball" was taking exception to the Mitchell report, "it seems to me that Congress has the authority to hold hearings to determine which view is correct."
Attanasio said the issue would be addressed in testimony from the first two witnesses prosecutors planned to call: retired House Parliamentarian Charles Johnson, followed by Phil Barnett, who was chief counsel for the committee at the time it investigated Clemens.