Defense lawyers for former baseball star Roger Clemens fired back today as prosecutors seek to squeeze in additional trial testimony to try to bolster the credibility of the government's chief witness.
Federal prosecutors this week in Washington asked U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to allow the government to tell jurors at Clemens’s perjury trial about statements that Brian McNamee made to a former baseball player and to a Wall Street banker.
The government contends in a court filing that McNamee, Clemens’s former strength coach, told former baseball player David Segui in 2001 that he saved “darts”—slang for needles—from players McNamee allegedly injected. Prosecutors said the statement “directly rebuts the notion that Mr. McNamee recently fabricated this evidence” to avoid prosecution or gain fame and fortune.
Clemens’s defense attorneys, led by Russell “Rusty” Hardin Jr. of Houston, said today in court papers that the U.S. Justice Department is trying to introduce “rank hearsay” to show that Clemens is guilty through his association with Segui and other admitted users of performance enhancing drugs.
“The government—unable to prove any drug use by Mr. Clemens—is desperately trying (again) to smear Mr. Clemens through guilty-by-association with another player who used performance-enhancing substances,” Hardin said in the court papers. “This is wrong and it should stop.”
Prosecutors argue that any purported motive by McNamee to fabricate evidence post-dates statements he made to Segui and to Wall Street banker Anthony Corso. McNamee, who testified last week he had Wall Street clients, allegedly told Corso sometime between 2002 and 2004 that Clemens and former teammate Andy Pettitte used human growth hormone.
The government said McNamee’s “prior consistent statements are not tinged with any motive to lie.” DOJ lawyers said McNamee, the lone witness who claims Clemens injected performance enhancing drugs, made the statements to Segui and Corso before federal officials confronted him about his knowledge of drug use in Major League Baseball.
Clemens’s lawyers today disputed the timing of when McNamee allegedly developed the motive to falsify and to fabricate evidence. The defense attorneys said McNamee formed that alleged motive in 2001, if not earlier, as his life “entered a downward spiral.” Hardin said Clemens has not accused McNamee of any recent fabrication of evidence.
The jury, Hardin said, “is entitled to infer from this evidence, without undue speculation, that Mr. McNamee formed a motive to lie and to concoct evidence to support his lies at that time.”
Hardin said allowing the McNamee statements to Segui and Corso to be admitted at trial is prejudicial to Clemens and would further delay the proceedings. Segui, Hardin says, does not know Clemens. Segui and Clemens were never teammates.
“The defense anticipates this will add multiple days of testimony to the trial,” Hardin said. “It would be a shame to devote such resources to individuals otherwise unrelated to this case.”
Clemens was charged in Aug. 2010 with perjury and obstruction of Congress for allegedly lying in congressional testimony when he denied using steroids and human growth hormone.
The trial resumes today at noon in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.