An attorney for former professional baseball pitcher Roger Clemens told a judge today he anticipates a legal fight to squeeze documents from Congress and from the independent commission that investigated steroid use in Major League Baseball.
The lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said during a hearing in the government's perjury case against for the former baseball star that the independent investigative commission, named after former Sen. George Mitchell, is citing attorney-client and work-product privileges in blocking the release of information.
Clemens, wearing a black, striped suit today in court, is charged with perjury, among other crimes, for alleged false congressional testimony in which he denied taking steroids. Clemens pleaded not guilty in August.
Hardin of Houston's Rusty Hardin & Associates told Judge Reggie Walton that the defense is "not comfortable" with the Mitchell Commission's stance on favorable, exculpatory material. The commission published a report in 2007 documenting the history of steroid abuse among baseball players.
In addressing impediments to obtaining documents from Congress, Walton said the speech or debate privilege, which gives immunity to certain aspects of the legislative process, could become an issue down the road.
Washington lawyer Stanley Brand of The Brand Law Group said today it could be difficult for Congress to keep documents secret from Clemens’ lawyers.
Brand, who is not involved in the Clemens case, said Walton may not be inclined to protect congressional documents because of the central role Congress plays in the government’s charges. Committee members could be called as witnesses in the prosecution, Brand said.
The lead federal prosecutor in the Clemens case, Steve Durham, a public corruption unit supervisor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District, said today in court that the government has provided 54,000 documents to the defense as part of discovery. Durham said the bulk of discovery has been completed.
Walton today, at the request of Hardin, pushed back the start of Clemens' trial until July. Hardin had asked the trial be continued until September.