As the cross-examination of the chief witness in the Roger Clemens perjury case continued today, prosecutors in Washington filed court papers suggesting the government is concerned about the possible harm the vigorous questioning could have on jurors.
Government lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to allow prosecutors to tell jurors all about the drug-related interaction that Brian McNamee, Clemens’s former strength coach, had with other professional baseball players. McNamee testified this week he injected Clemens with performance enhancing drugs, a central allegation to the perjury case against the former pitching star.
Walton did not outright prohibit testimony about McNamee’s conduct and discussions with other players, including Chuck Knoblauch. But the judge said earlier he would wait to hear the “exact line of attack” against McNamee, the sole witness who directly accuses Clemens of using steroids and human growth hormone.
“That time has come, as the defense’s line of attack is now clear: the defense vigorously contends that McNamee is biased and self-interested, and that he was biased and self-interested at every stage of this matter,” an assistant U.S. attorney, Steven Durham, said in the court papers filed today.
Walton did not immediately take up the dispute this morning at the start of the Clemens trial. McNamee resumed testifying today on cross-examination, telling jurors that he mixed other players’ medical waste in with syringes and other items that he claims are linked to Clemens and drug use.
A lawyer for Clemens, Rusty Hardin Jr., suggested today that the physical evidence McNamee stored in his basement for seven years is unreliable. That evidence includes needles and small glass viles. Hardin today continued to hammer away at McNamee as the defense attorney tried to undercut McNamee’s credibility.
Prosecutors said in the court papers today that the thrust of the cross-examination “is that McNamee was and is an unreliable and unscrupulous witness who would do or say anything in order to curry favor with the government and advance his personal interest in fame and fortune.”
To that end, the government said it wants to counter any “false impressions” that McNamee falsely accused Clemens of using performance enhancing drugs in the pursuit of “publicity and riches.” Prosecutors contend McNamee was reluctant to speak with investigators about steroid use in pro baseball.
The government’s legal team said the prosecution should be allowed to present additional evidence about McNamee and other players to “rehabilitate McNamee by showing that at all stages of this matter there was a bigger picture” than just Clemens.
Prosecutors asked Walton to permit the government to reveal to jurors that McNamee provided information about human growth hormone to Knoblauch, Mike Stanton and Andy Pettitte. Knoblauch and Pettitte admitted to Congress, prosecutors said, that McNamee’s information was accurate.
“Pettitte’s, Knoblauch’s, and Stanton’s admissions of their illegal behavior to Congress and the grand jury are the functional equivalent of guilty pleas,” prosecutors said. “In the face of the attacks on McNamee’s credibility, that evidence makes it less probable that McNamee was or is simply lying out of self-interest against defendant and thus is relevant.”
The direct examination of McNamee is expected to take place this afternoon.
Walton today expressed concern about the slow pace of the Clemens trial. The trial, he said, will continue at least into early June. The judge encouraged the prosecutors and defense lawyers to speed along the proceedings.
This afternoon, Walton imposed 90-minute time restrictions for direct and cross examination for witnesses following McNamee.