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April 16, 2012

Eleven lawyers — five funded by taxpayers — now involved in Clemens perjury trial

As reported in this new AP piece, which Fox News has given the fitting and lovely headline "Feds bulk up for Roger Clemens perjury retrial," a whole lot of lawyers are now involved in the trial fight over whether the Rocket lied to Congress about his steroid use.  Here are the pricey details:

The Justice Department, embarrassed by blundering into a mistrial of Roger Clemens last year, has added more prosecutors as it tries again to convict the famed pitcher of lying to Congress when he said he never used performance-enhancing drugs.  Jury selection in the new trial begins Monday.

The legendary former pitcher, who famously reveled in staring down hitters, will face a prosecution lineup of five lawyers -- more than double the two from the first trial.

Last July, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton declared a mistrial on only the second day of testimony, after prosecutors showed jurors evidence that had been ruled inadmissible. Walton also will preside over the new trial, which is expected to last four weeks to six weeks.

The Clemens team won't be outgunned. It has six lawyers working on the case, led by Houston lawyer Rusty Hardin, whose Rusty Hardin & Associates has represented sports stars such as quarterback Warren Moon, baseball star Wade Boggs and NBA great Scottie Pippen, each a Hall of Famer....

Michael McCann, a law professor and director of the sports law institute at Vermont Law School, said it was unusual to have so many prosecutors "for a perjury case that isn't terribly complicated."... McCann said the department has extra motivation to convict Clemens, given the amount of money spent on the case and the underwhelming outcome of its more-than-seven-year investigation of Barry Bonds over steroids.

Bonds, baseball's career home run leader, was found guilty last year on just one count, obstruction of justice, for giving an evasive answer to a grand jury when asked about drug use. He received a sentence of 30 days confinement at his estate in Beverly Hills. Prosecutors dropped three other counts charging Bonds with making false statements after the jury deadlocked on those charges. Bonds has appealed his conviction.

"For the government to lose this case after obtaining a very mild victory against Bonds," McCann said, "would invite a lot of questions about the appropriateness of these prosecutions."...

If convicted on all six charges, Clemens faces a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine. Maximum penalties are unlikely because Clemens doesn't have a criminal record, but Walton made plain at the first trial that Clemens was at risk of going to jail.   Under U.S. sentencing guidelines, Clemens probably would face up to 15 months to 21 months in prison.

As I have explained in some prior post, I think the prosecution of Clemens is MUCH more justifiable than some other "lying about steroids" cases.  In the wake of being named in the Mitchell report on steroid use in baseball, Clemens essentially requested a chance to "clear" his name through high-profile televised testimony to Congress.  Though I have limited sympathy for any high-profile liars and cheats, I am especially unsympathetic toward those like Clemens who, in essence, actively promote their lies.  In addition, I personally view lying under oath to Congress as an even more serious offense than lying to government officials in other settings.

That all said, I would love to see some kind of reasonable accounting of what the lengthy Clemens prosecution has already cost federal taxpayers.  I would not be at all surprised if the final "bill" for this single case may end up making all the monies recently wasted by the GSA during its conference boodoggles look like chump change.

April 16, 2012 at 10:59 AM | Permalink


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Of course you're right about the cost of the GSA "scandal" but the GSA issue is politically motivated and designed to feed into the reelection subtext that "Those damn Democrats are out of control and can't be trusted with running the government." The same narrative that the Secret Service incident is about. We can expect to see much more of this as the year wears on because besides the color of their skin it's difficult to tell Obama and Romney apart.

The issue with Clemons is different. That feeds into the narrative that "our heroes have feet of clay". That's a cultural/human interest story but not one that generates any immediate or obvious gain politically for either party so in an election year lying to Congress is meh.

Posted by: Daniel | Apr 16, 2012 12:19:52 PM

Clemons is being prosecuted by a bunch of liars for lying to a group of liars.

And, today, I had to write checks to the government to pay for this crap. It pisses me off.

Posted by: Calif. Capital Defense Counsel | Apr 16, 2012 4:35:12 PM

Great line, CCDC.

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Apr 16, 2012 6:09:29 PM

'today, I had to write checks to the government to pay for this crap. It pisses me off. '

yes, truly sickening. I just did the same thing, WTF is going on with these people, they are living in their own LaLa Land

Posted by: Tom Danson | Apr 16, 2012 7:43:49 PM

CCDC is right on. Even as a federal prosecutor, I remain puzzled as to how it could possibly be a crime to lie to a bunch of congressmen. Is there no longer such a thing as profdessional courtesy? Sheesh.

Posted by: rick | Apr 16, 2012 7:59:02 PM

Off topic but here we go again...


Now it's the partying of Hillary Clinton that shows just how damn irresponsible those Democrats are.

Posted by: Daniel | Apr 16, 2012 9:22:17 PM

how true thinkaboutit and CCDC expecialy for an ILLEGAL 2nd shot at a trial!

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 17, 2012 1:26:08 AM

Even if we want to get all hot under the collar about how Roger Clemens lied about using steroids, it still doesn't seem like that big a deal to me. I suppose it's because the whole steroid-use-in-baseball scandal never seemed like a particularly big deal to me, either. I don't know, maybe I'm just missing something, but I'm going to have to go with CCDC's comments on this one.

Posted by: Guy | Apr 17, 2012 11:07:26 AM

Is there anyone on this thread who's NOT OK with lying? Or is the view that lying is bad, sort of, but we should just accept it because, hey, you know, boys will be boys?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 17, 2012 12:05:16 PM

Wow, I held my comments back yesterday..Didn't want to start the week off on a negative note.. Yiou guys have taken the words right out of my mouth....Clemons is being prosecuted by a bunch of liars for lying to a group of liars. I love it....I get all xxxbxnxxn3%##% when I think about all the bucks being pitched out the window by the feds...The higher ups want their way, at our expense...

If I asked a 10 yr old, can you buy a new car? Reply would be, no, I don't have enough money...

Wow...Imagine that.....If fearless leaders could think in those terms.

Posted by: Abe | Apr 17, 2012 12:10:49 PM

no bill we are not OK with lying! But in the grand scheme of things it's just plain STUPID and DOWNRIGHT CRIMINAL to spend all this money we DON'T HAVE to ILLEGALLY reprosecute someone who's REAL CRIME was LIYING to a BUNCH OF LIERS!

sorry WHO CARES!

this is right up there was a thief who is pissed off becasue someone stole from him!

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 17, 2012 1:52:50 PM

Of course lying is bad. So is taking the last piece of cake. The question is how to allocate federal resources, and the majority of people here, it seems, feel that prosecuting Clemens for lying in this case is about as worthwhile as prosecuting him for finishing off the chocolate layer cake.

Posted by: pourquoi | Apr 17, 2012 2:13:49 PM

"Of course lying is bad. So is taking the last piece of cake."


Posted by: Guy | Apr 17, 2012 2:26:09 PM

I'm happy to hear that lying is on a par with taking the last piece of cake. Is that what you tell your kid about lying? Do you implicitly encourage them to lie to others but not you, or is it OK if they lie to you along with everyone else?

When big shots, sports stars and celebrities publicly get away with lying, that sets an example. If you like that example, have at it. I don't, and I will still tell the members of this family that they are required to tell the truth. I will also tell them that their obligation to be honest exists independently of their assessment of the honesty of other people -- I'm not a big fan of morality getting dumbed down to the lowest common denominator.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 17, 2012 6:46:22 PM

The difference, Bill, is that "telling the members of this family" not to lie is free, but prosecuting them in federal court for lying is not. I thought we were talking about sensible allocation of resources here.

If there were a general federal law against lying, would you turn members of your family in to the FBI every time they lied?

Posted by: pourquoi | Apr 18, 2012 12:18:29 PM

pourquoi --

"I thought we were talking about sensible allocation of resources here."

Some commenters are talking about resources as a cover and a pretext for a more general approval of lying -- approval that's easier to swallow with the diversion of resource allocation. Thus, so many of the comments start out more-or-less, "I don't approve of lying, but..."

We all know that the only significant part of a sentence is the part that starts after the "but."

"If there were a general federal law against lying, would you turn members of your family in to the FBI every time they lied?"

No, and I haven't stopped beating my wife either. Good grief.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 18, 2012 5:29:54 PM

I'm just a regular Joe, but that looks like overkill. Then again, there is also the question of cohesion. If those 11 can't work together properly, the whole team falters.

Posted by: family lawyers perth | Jul 12, 2012 3:36:07 AM

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