Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

News

April 15, 2012

9 months later, Clemens back for perjury retrial

WASHINGTON —  In baseball terms, the first Roger Clemens trial was a rainout in the top of the first inning.

Not because it actually rained, but because one of the teams turned on the sprinkler and left it running.

Only two witnesses had been called last July when U.S. Judge Reggie Walton declared a mistrial, famously declaring that prosecutors had made a gaffe that even a "first-year law student" wouldn't make.

It was a courtroom humiliation even a baseball fan would understand.

It's been a nine-month wait for the makeup date.

The case of United States vs. William R. Clemens was set to return to court Monday with the start of jury selection in the second attempt by the government to prove that the seven-time Cy Young Award winning pitcher lied when he denied, in an appearance before Congress in 2008, using steroids and human growth hormone.

To help make sure there's not another misstep, the Justice Department now has five lawyers on the prosecution team, up from two at the first trial.

"They bulked up their team," said Washington lawyer Stan Brand, who represented Major League Baseball in connection with a 2005 congressional investigation into the sport's steroids policies. "They're going belt-to-suspenders so they don't make any mistakes."

The trial is expected to last four weeks to six weeks, and the basics remain the same.

The government's key witness is Clemens' former strength trainer, Brian McNamee, who says he injected the pitcher with performance-enhancing substances and held on some used needles that will be entered as scientific evidence. Clemens will be doing what he can to clear his name from allegations that the backside of his remarkable 24-year, 354-win career was the product of something more than an intense fitness regimen.

The wait for the retrial has renewed debate over whether it should be taking place at all.

Any verdict would be irrelevant for those who say Clemens has already been convicted in the court of public opinion, and even Clemens himself told Congress at the 2008 hearing that "no matter what we discuss here today, I'm never going to have my named restored."

Clemens' statistics normally would be more than enough to put him in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, but he'll be far from a shoo-in when he becomes eligible next year.

The prosecution has to be wary of the perception that the government has more important things to do than pursue than a costly case centered on a baseball player's truthfulness. Some of the jurors in the first trial felt that trying the case a second time would be "a waste of taxpayers' money at a time when we have significant fiscal problems in our country," Walton told both sides last September, according to a newly discovered transcript.

With the trial is starting anew, the stakes are still high for both sides. Clemens' reputation aside, he faces the very real possibility of time behind bars if he is convicted. U.S. sentencing guidelines suggest he would receive up to 15 months to 21 months in prison if found guilty on all six counts. The maximum sentence is 30 years and a $1.5 million fine.

"Because if this man got convicted, from my perspective, knowing how I sentence, he goes to jail," Walton said last year when explaining why he was calling a mistrial.

The government needs a victory after expensive, high-profile setbacks involving other major sports figures dogged by doping allegations. A seven-year pursuit against home run king Barry Bonds yielded a guilty verdict on just one count — obstruction of justice — and a sentence of 30 days confinement at his Beverly Hills estate. Bonds has appealed his conviction.

Also, the Justice Department recently closed, without bringing any charges, a two-year investigation of possible drug use by seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

"For the government to lose this case after obtaining a very mild victory against Bonds," said Michael McCann, law professor and director of the sports law institute at Vermont Law School, "would invite a lot of questions about the appropriateness of these prosecutions."

1
Text Only
News
  • Alto City Council examines gas line issue

    City leaders have started looking into the process of moving a gas line that runs from Alto through Wells along U.S. Hwy. 69 to meet requirements of TxDOT, which is widening the road through the city.

    July 26, 2014

  • Old Jville Bearden Store.tif Longtime furniture store changes hands

    For the better part of a century, Bearden Furniture Co., Inc., has been the go-to place for local residents wanting to beautify their home.
    Furniture and accessories, carpeting, window treatments – even electronics at one point – were offered at the Commerce Street store, but on July 1, the family who started Bearden's sold the company to Louisiana-based Ivan Smith Furniture company.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Athens woman confesses to killing daughter

    A 25-year-old mother is in the Henderson County Jail after telling authorities that she had killed her four-year-old daughter, Monday
    morning.

    July 24, 2014

  • Bullard: District names Jan Hill as deputy superintendent

    Bullard Independent School District is proud to announce Jan Hill as Deputy Superinten-dent. Hill will assume the new role effective immediately.

    July 24, 2014

  • ‘Christmas in July’ drive benefits area foster children

    Sure, December is still more than five months away, but Cherokee County residents are getting the chance to start spreading some holiday cheer a little early this year during the annual Christmas in July donation drive, benefitting the county's Rainbow Room.

    July 24, 2014

  • RISD board mulls $16M budget

    Local school board members are considering a $16,671,955 proposed general fund budget for Rusk ISD's upcoming fiscal year – which begins Sept. 1 – but are nowhere near close to adopting the budget, said Lesa Jones, assistant district superintendent for finance and operation.

    July 22, 2014

  • National Night Out to return to Jacksonville

    National Night Out ( NNO) festivities will be returning  to Jacksonville this year.
    Jacksonville Police Crime Prevention Officer Detective Tonya Harris said all Jacksonville residents are encouraged to participate this year by sponsoring or attending a National Night Out party on Oct. 7.

    July 22, 2014

  • Bullard group rallies behind alcohol petition

    A petition calling for a city-wide city election this November that would make all areas of Bullard wet, including those which fall in Cherokee County, has proven successful, as more than the required 221 signatures have been collected.

    July 19, 2014

  • mom and kids_6776.tif Jacksonville woman celebrates 100th birthday surrounded by family, friends

    Ethel Terry, a lifelong resident of Jacksonville, celebrated her 100th birthday with an open house on July 15 at the Twin Oaks Care Facility in Jacksonville.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cemetery grass.tif Extra rainfall produces more abundant lawns, extends hay season

    Steady periods of rain this summer have been a homeowner's dream, as lawns appear more lush than in previous years.
    But for city workers, that same growth has taken on nightmarish proportions.
    “It's a maintenance nightmare,” said Ben Briley, director of the City of Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo