The government should be forced to pay fees and costs associated with the botched obstruction and perjury trial of Roger Clemens, the defense lawyers for the former baseball pitcher told a judge in Washington today.
The attorneys, including Houston’s Russell Hardin Jr., said in court papers (PDF) filed this evening in Washington federal district court that trial judges have the inherent authority “to sanction conduct that abuses the judicial process.”
“The government had its day in court,” Hardin said. “The conduct of its own attorneys resulted in irretrievably wasted time and the loss of an opportunity for a one-time, fair resolution of these charges for all involved. This is not fair to the accused—any accused—nor is it fair to the United States District Court and the taxpayers of this country.”
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton declared a mistrial in July after prosecutors presented to jurors evidence the judge had previously restricted.
Walton later refused to throw out the case entirely, setting the stage for a retrial in April. Clemens is accused of lying to Congress in testimony about his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.
At a hearing in September, Walton said jury selection and the several days of trial itself “obviously cost Mr. Clemens a lot of money.”
Hardin and co-counsel Michael Attanasio of Cooley did not specify the amount they are seeking. The lawyers said they would submit a petition to the court documenting fees and expenses incurred between June 25 and July 14.
Walton said in court last month he was unsure whether he has the authority to order the government to reimburse Clemens.
“I think fundamental fairness obviously would require that he be reimbursed for those expenses, but sometimes fundamental fairness doesn’t bear out when it comes to legal issues that a court has to resolve,” Walton said.
Clemens’ lawyers urged Walton to “sanction the United States to the same extent (the court) can sanction private parties.” An award of fees and costs, the defense lawyers said, “would at least partially restore Mr. Clemens to the same position he was in before the prosecutors engaged in conduct meriting a mistrial.”
William Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, declined to comment on Clemens’ request for compensation.