Evidence

Last month, investigators leaked the fact that Clemens’ DNA was found on the syringes Brian McNamee had kept under his couch or wherever. Now they’re saying that PEDs are on them too:

Federal authorities investigating Roger Clemens on perjury charges have found performance-enhancing substances on the drug paraphernalia that his former trainer said he used to inject Clemens, according to people briefed on the case.

The discovery of the substances could bolster the claims of the trainer, Brian McNamee, that he used the various items — including syringes, vials and gauze pads — to inject Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.

Sure, it would be better for Clemens if PEDs weren’t found on those syringes, but this doesn’t necessarily bury him. Why? Chain of custody. Rusty Hardin or, if Clemens is wise, some actually competent lawyer, will be able to attack the reliability of such evidence on the basis that it wasn’t preserved properly and was always at risk of contamination. Brian McNamee had access to PEDs. Brian McNamee had access to Clemens blood via the vitamin shots or whatever Clemens says McNamee gave him. Brian McNamee is a demonstrated liar. Brian McNamee’s apartment is no lab and, if I had to guess, probably looks like the kind of place in which you used to wake up still drunk and covered in beer cans and pizza boxes when you were in college.

In other words, any presumption that the syringe evidence is pure and true would be pretty hard to take. This is especially true in a world where half of the potential jurors watch CSI three times a week and thus have elevated expectations as to the quality of forensic evidence.

UPDATE: Pinto is all over this too.

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Comments

  1. Rob said...

    As I recall, the burden of proof in this case is on Clemens.  This isn’t enough proof to convict Clemens of taking PEDs, but it might be enough evidence to undermine his case against McNamee.

  2. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Rob—the burden is on Clemens in the defamation case.  I think everyone assumes that’s going nowhere.  The more important burden at the moment is the burden on the government should it decide to prosecute Clemens for perjury before Congress.  That’s the investigation which led to the syringe evidence coming into play.

  3. Chris H. said...

    Interesting that you mention the CSI-educated juries.  I read an article by some prosecutor(not you, Craig, obviously) who said that shows like CSI were giving juries “unreasonable” expectations about forensic evidence.  He said that if the state didn’t have DNA or other “slam-dunk” forensic evidence, juries were becoming more reluctant to convict.

    Putting aside the philosophical discussion of whether that’s a good or bad thing, I find it interesting that a work of fiction would have such an effect.  I’m no forensics expert, but I am something of an expert on computers and networking (he said arrogantly).  If CSI is as accurate about forensic science as it is about computers, the Internet, etc., then the legal system is in a lot of trouble indeed, because CSI doesn’t even TRY to be accurate about computers, etc.

    And I am not a lawyer either, but I bet that often the forensic evidence isn’t nearly as important as other stuff.  Like chain of custody, for example.  (Bet you thought I wasn’t going to tie this back into the Clemens/McNamee nonsense.)

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