The prosecutors in the Roger Clemens perjury case are preparing to rest soon, seven weeks into the proceeding, giving the former baseball pitcher a chance to present his case to the jury in Washington.
Seeking to limit the scope of what Clemens’s lawyers can tell jurors, prosecutors late Monday filed court papers arguing that testimony about the pitcher’s athletic work ethic in his high school, college years and early professional baseball career should be off-limits.
The prosecutors, including assistant U.S. attorneys Steven Durham and Daniel Butler, said in the papers that “it appears” Clemens’s defense lawyers want to call former coaches and teammates to address training and work ethic.
“Testimony about the defendant’s training and work ethic, dating over 20 years prior to the steroids and HGH [human growth hormone] use alleged in this case, is far too remote in time to be relevant,” prosecutors said in the papers (PDF).
The government said that, at best, the evidence is “marginally relevant” to suggest Clemens has long employed “a rigorous athletic work ethic that made him a great baseball player, and that the defendant accomplished this greatness without the use of steroids or HGH.”
Prosecutors said that if U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton allows a broad scope of character evidence at trial, the government should be allowed to call other players who had rigorous work ethics but who never used steroids or human growth hormone.
Walton didn’t immediately take up the dispute this morning before the trial resumed.
Jurors today got to hear from a consultant and former banker named Anthony Corso, who said that Brian McNamee, the government’s chief witness, provided him with human growth hormone.
Prosecutors won the chance to let Corso testify that McNamee told him he injected Clemens with human growth hormone. That testimony, according to the government, bolsters McNamee's credibility.
Corso also claimed today that McNamee, Clemens’s former strength coach, told him he saved syringes in a beer can as evidence. McNamee allegedly confided in Corso that he was unwilling to be "thrown under the bus" if things with Clemens ever went sour. McNamee turned over the syringes and other items to the authorities in 2008.
On cross-examination, Corso described an increasingly strained relationship between McNamee and Clemens. McNamee, Corso testified, became more and more upset in disputes with Clemens over money.
“It seemed there was distrust around their relationship,” Corso told a lawyer for Clemens, Rusty Hardin Jr., during cross-examination.
Clemens was charged in Washington in 2010 with perjury and obstruction of Congress for allegedly lying about his use of performance enhancing drugs.
His attorneys have built a case around the notion that McNamee, the lone witness who claims that Clemens used steroids and growth hormone, is lying and out to get the retired baseball star. Hardin contends McNamee was bent on seeking fame and fortune through his association with Clemens.
The Clemens trial jury is down to one alternate after Walton today excused a woman following a death in her family. The judge has said that he expects the Clemens trial to push into early June.