Jury selection in the Roger Clemens perjury case in Washington resumed Wednesday, as prospective jurors expressed their views on drugs in sports, the scope of the investigative role of Congress and the government's burden in proving the charges.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton has excused jurors, over the past several days, for a variety of reasons, including medical problems and religious beliefs, potential bias toward witnesses and firm thoughts on Clemens' guilt.
One man, for instance, said today he could not judge Clemens, the former pitching star, leaving that decision to a higher being. "Who's supposed to do it while we're here on earth," Walton asked the man.
One potential juror is an intellectual property associate in the Washington office of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp who has defended creators, producers and distributors of movies against copyright infringement claims.
Another prospective juror, who has a law degree, is a former deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Treasury Department who participates in a neighborhood wine-drinking club with James Cole, the second-in-charge at the U.S. Justice Department.
Clemens' lead defense attorney, Russell "Rusty" Hardin Jr. of Houston, several times this week has reminded jurors that Clemens is not charged with using steroids, but with lying about their use. Still, prosecutors must prove that Clemens used drugs in order to show that he lied about it later on.
"I'm here now to listen to things that might make me have to judge Mr. Clemens,' one prospective juror said this morning. "Until I hear that, he is Roger Clemens, the baseball player. Until I hear otherwise, I don¹t know if he used steroids."
Hardin, addressing another juror, asked whether the man, an information technology specialist, could fairly judge the credibility of Andy Pettitte and Clemens' wife, Debbie. "The truth will come out based upon the circumstances," the potential juror responded.
Clemens was indicted in August 2010 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on charges that included obstruction of Congress and perjury.
Prosecutors in Washington, including assistant U.S. attorneys Steve Durham and Daniel Butler, contend Clemens lied in 2008 at a congressional hearing when he denied using performance enhancing drugs.
Prosecutors last summer botched the presentation of evidence to jurors, leading Walton, the judge, to declare a mistrial.
Clemens' attorneys said Tuesday in a court filing that the prosecution must prove the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was a "competent tribunal" when members questioned Clemens, under oath, about alleged drug use during his Major League Baseball career.
Lawyers for Clemens said in the filing that the oversight committee is not a competent tribunal unless it is pursuing a "bona fide" legislative purpose.
One potential juror this morning expressed detailed familiarity with the Clemens case, referencing the lengthy investigation former U.S. Senator George Mitchell and ex-DLA Piper chairman conducted on performance enhancing drugs in baseball. The report was published in December 2007.
The Mitchell Report, Walton told the juror, will not likely be evidence in the case. "You have to put out of your mind what you read in that report," the judge said from the bench.
Hardin urged Walton to dismiss the juror for knowing too much about the case and conflating information. Walton, however, refused to strike the juror, saying he was confident the potential juror could serve without a bias.
Another potential juror, who researches contemporary art at the Smithsonian Institution, said she questioned whether Congress was the appropriate oversight authority to investigate steroids in baseball.
"I just remember questioning it a little bit at the time," the woman said. She insisted, however, that she could serve as an impartial juror. The woman made it to the next round.
A prospective juror who works at the government printing office said Major League Baseball was best suited to police steroid use, not Congress. "I think it should be handled there first before Congress steps in. That's just my opinion," the woman said.
Durham, the prosecutor, told the woman that Congress was trying to protect youth from exposure to drugs. The woman said she could serve as an impartial juror.
Opening statements are not expected at least until Monday. The trial, Walton said today, could last six to eight weeks.