As the trial of Roger Clemens approaches, federal prosecutors in Washington and lawyers for the former pitching star are quarreling over documents the law firm DLA Piper created amid its review of drug use among baseball players.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington said recently they want to review notes that DLA Piper attorneys took during interviews with witnesses who are now central to the prosecution against Clemens.
Clemens is charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with lying to Congress when he denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs. The first trial ended abruptly when the presiding judge, Reggie Walton, declared that prosecutors presented prohibited evidence.
Before the first trial, Clemens’ defense team, led by Russell Hardin Jr. of Houston, fought hard in court to get their hands on information from DLA Piper, which published its investigative report in December 2007 on baseball and steroids.
Prosecutors took no position as Clemens’ attorneys tried to squeeze documents from the firm. But the government now wants to see the information that Walton ordered DLA Piper to turn over to the Clemens defense.
In court papers filed last night, Clemens’ attorneys accuse the government of “a back-door effort to obtain copies of materials it originally sought to keep hidden before the first trial.”
Hardin said Clemens “fought tooth and nail” to obtain documents from DLA Piper about government witnesses Brian McNamee and Kirk Radomski. Prosecutors, Clemens’ attorneys said, “did not lift a finger” to assist in getting the documents from DLA Piper.
Hardin yesterday asked Walton to deny the government’s request to see the DLA Piper documents. Walton said last June in an order that Clemens’ defense attorneys were barred from disclosing the law firm’s documents unless the defense made use of them at trial.
“[I]f the government is permitted to parachute into this Clemens/DLA Piper dispute, then it would reward the prosecution for taking a head-in-the-sand approach to finding and producing potentially exculpatory information” that prosecutors are required to disclose, Hardin said in the court papers.
Hardin said that if Walton agrees and lets prosecutors see the DLA Piper documents, “it would not be shocking to see” an attempt by the government to block the defense from using the information.
Jury selection in the Clemens retrial is scheduled to begin April 16.