It took a jury only one full day of deliberations after listening to arguments in the nine-week perjury trial of baseball legend Roger Clemens. Clemens was accused by the government of lying about the use of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone (hGH) when he appeared before Congress in 2008. The Justice Department charged him with six counts of obstruction of Congress, false statements and perjury. The jury acquitted Clemens of all charges.
“We knew we had to be fair to both parties, but we didn’t see anything to be prosecuted,” said juror Joyce Robinson-Paul. “We just didn’t.”
The pursuit of Roger Clemens represented a “career case” for Assistant United States Attorneys Steve Durham and Dan Butler. The younger prosecutors may have a chance to redeem their reputation but it will be difficult for lead prosecutors to escape the disastrous Clemens case. The jury rebuke represented a major embarrassment for federal prosecutors. However, the verdict was not unexpected.
There were two trials. The first one resulted in a mistrial after a rookie mistake by federal prosecutors. Many legal experts questioned the wisdom of continuing to pursue Clemens. Even Judge Reggie Walton suggested to prosecutors that their efforts may be a waste of taxpayer money.
The feds have not had a great track record in their prosecution of celebrity athletes accused of lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) such as steroids and hGH. The verdict in the Clemens case may represent the end of the federal government’s involvement in the steroid witch-hunt that has ensnared numerous celebrity athletes over the past decade.
The jury has spoken loud and clear by telling the federal government that the Clemens trial was an unnecessary waste of time and money that should have never been pursued.
“You have these cutthroat thieves, murderers, drug dealers and drug addicts and you decide to go after somebody who had a reputation for trying to do his best and be the best that he can be, and you attack him,” said Robinson-Paul.
Robinson-Paul felt the government’s actions against a private citizen over something so petty was frightening. She noted that only wealthy individuals would have been able to afford a defense against such government over-reaching.
And Robinson-Paul probably had no idea how much the government actually spent in this particular steroid witch-hunt. A reported $10,548,772 of taxpayer money was spent pursuing the Clemens’ steroid case according to Darren Rovell, the host for CNBC’s Sports Biz. That included funds for 179 interviews, 93 agents and 65 interview locations.
Ten million dollars to pursue one man. Because he lied about steroids. How can the government expect to be taken seriously.
Of course, the cost of the Clemens trial was a relative bargain for taxpayers when compared to the $75-120 million reportedly spent on the Barry Bonds trial. At least, the government may be able to collect a $4,000 fine from Bonds. But even that may be overly optimistic because it assumes the feds will prevail in Bonds appeal which is far from guaranteed.
Perez, AJ. (June 18, 2012). Acquitted Rocket back to family focus. Retrieved from http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/roger-clemens-acquitted-federal-perjury-charges-can-focus-on-family-061812
O’Keeffe, M. et al (June 18, 2012). Roger Clemens perjury trial juror says Rocket is not guilty because prosecution failed, defense showed Brian McNamee was a ‘liar’ who held grudge. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/i-team/roger-clemens-perjury-trial-juror-prosecutors-rocket-guilty-prosecution-failed-defense-showed-brian-mcnamee-a-liar-held-grudge-article-1.1098162