The verdict is in on the Roger Clemens criminal trial. So is the reaction. Here is Attorney Sam’s Take on it.
Mr. Clemens was charged with, essentially, perjury. This was the second time this case went to trial. Last time, it ended in a mistrial due to actions by the prosecution. Nevertheless, it was apparently worth it for the prosecution to spend our money further on this matter so they brought Clemens to trial again.
While the government touts the cause-at-issue to be critical, and describers it as part of the fight to get performance-enhancing drugs out of the sports arena, it is worth noting that this is not what Clemens was charged with. He was charged with lying about not using the drugs.
In any event, the jury acquitted Clemens this week on all charges.
“I’m very thankful,” Clemens said, choking up as he spoke after the verdict. “It’s been a hard five years,” said the pitcher, who was retried after an earlier prosecution ended in a mistrial.
Accused of cheating to achieve and extend his success – and then facing felony charges that he lied about it – he declared, “I put a lot of hard work into that career.”
His chief lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said Clemens had to hustle to get to court in time to hear the verdict. “All of us had told Roger there wouldn’t be a verdict for two, three or four days, so he was actually working out with his sons almost at the Washington Monument when he got the call that there was a verdict.”
The fact that the jury acquitted Clemens, not to mention doing it much quicker than anticipated, is still unlikely to settle the matter in sports circles as to whether Clemens cheated in the latter stages of a remarkable career that extended well into his 40s – during a period in which performance-enhancing drug use in baseball was thought to be prevalent. Clemens himself told Congress at the 2008 hearing that “no matter what we discuss here today, I’m never going to have my name restored.”
Prosecutors declined to comment as they left the courthouse. But the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a written statement, “The jury has spoken in this matter, and we thank them for their service. We respect the judicial process and the jury’s verdict.”
Attorney Sam’s Take Perjury Charges And Verdict Acceptance
The prosecutors had it right in this one…in terms of accepting the verdict without berating the jury. One has to expect that they are unhappy with the verdict, but they are quietly accepting it and moving on.
Listening to various news reports this week, however, they seem to be among the few. Interviewees spouting brilliant nonsense like, “Well, it’s just too bad. What this tells us is that you can now get away with taking steroids in sports” make my brain bubble.
I doubt you need to be a Boston Criminal Lawyer to understand that, no, that is not what the jury is telling us. In fact, that was not even a question put before the jury in the first place. At either trial.
The fact is that perjury cases are not generally easy to prosecute. The classic case wherein a prosecutor will bring a perjury charge is when the target has made two mutually exclusive and important statements under oath. That way, the argument can be that one of the two statements must be a lie. Of course, a defense in such a case can be that one of the statements was a mistake. Unfortunately, prosecutors do not allow for simple mistakes very much.
Unless it is one of their witnesses making the mistake. Then it is simple human nature.
In this case, Clemens was never under oath saying that he took the performance-enhancing drugs. The prosecutor depended on prior statements by other people to prove their case against him. His position was always the same.
“So, it is basically a ‘he said/he said’ situation?
Yes. And remember, the standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Therefore, in a case like this, the prosecution had better have unimpeachable witnesses.
“Couldn’t Clemens’ fame have played a role in the verdict?”
Sure. However, there have been plenty of famous people who have been found guilty in the past so I would tend to doubt that it was the deciding feature.
To read the original new story upon which today’s blog is based, please go to http://boston.cbslocal.com/2012/06/18/roger-clemens-found-not-guilty-on-all-counts-in-perjury-case/