By Mike Scarcella
Former Major League Baseball star Roger Clemens today pleaded not guilty in Washington federal court to perjury and other charges tied to congressional testimony in which he denied using steroids during his pitching career.
"Not guilty, your honor," Clemens declared, his voice booming in a crowded courtroom. Clemens was flanked by his lawyer Rusty Hardin at the podium in the ceremonial courtroom of the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse in downtown Washington.
Clemens, who was dressed in a dark jacket and khakis, must check in with pretrial services once every two weeks, Judge Reggie Walton said. Walton declined to order Clemens to surrender his passport, a request by federal prosecutors. Walton, citing Clemens's fame, suggested it's unlikely that the authorities will have any trouble finding Clemens.
Sitting with Clemens and Hardin were defense lawyers Michael Attanasio, a partner in the San Diego office of Cooley Godward Kronish, Anthony Drumheller and Derrick Hollingsworth. Drumheller and Hollingsworth work in Hardin's office in Houston.
Walton set a status hearing for Dec. 8 and a trial date for April 5. Last week, Walton said in an unrelated hearing that he wanted a spring trial. Walton said the speedy trial clock has been temporarily stopped, giving the lawyers the chance to review the voluminous discovery in the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Durham said in court today that the government has already given over a significant amount of evidence to Clemens's lawyers. Durham, the chief of the fraud and public integrity section of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, said the government will also turn over grand jury transcripts and FBI reports.
Durham said he doesn't expect Walton will have to resolve any discovery issues. The prosecutor said the government wants to avoid splitting hairs over the government's obligations to turn over favorable material.
Hardin said there is a "good deal" of scientific evidence the defense wants to test. Any trial date, he said, will come at the "mercy" of experts.
Clemens left the courthouse about 2:30 p.m., declining to speak to the throng of reporters who had gathered outside the courthouse annex entrance. He got into a black Cadillac Escalade with his lawyers.
Last week, Walton issued a gag order, telling Clemens, the lawyers in the case and potential witnesses to refrain from making public comments.