The clock strikes 11 for Roger Clemens

In my past life (read: the job I had until a little over a week ago) I occasionally represented clients who were subject to federal criminal investigations. All of these guys were under the microscope for a year or more, having their records subpoenaed, having their phones tapped, and having their friends and neighbors interviewed by IRS and FBI agents. I’d try to keep tabs of the investigations as best I could, occasionally even calling the U.S. Attorney or an agent to try and figure out what, if anything, was going on. Mostly, however, we heard silence from the government.

I later learned that the silence was a good thing in that you usually heard the leaks and the crowing when the feds started getting comfy with the idea of indicting your client’s butt. Kind of like what we’re hearing from the team investigating Roger Clemens now:

A federal grand jury has convened in Washington, D.C., to determine whether to indict seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens for lying under oath to Congress when he denied taking performance-enhancing drugs, has learned.

Witnesses have been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury as early as this week. The jurors are expected to review evidence presented by assistant U.S. attorney Daniel P. Butler and determine whether there is probable cause to return an indictment for perjury . . .

. . . “We have no knowledge of [the grand jury] one way or the other,” Rusty Hardin, one of Clemens’ attorneys, said Monday morning. “All I have heard is rumors from people saying something. But we have had no contact with anyone about it, and have no idea.”

Ya never do.

Here’s a fun passage from the story:

Barry Bonds, a seven-time MVP, was indicted last year on perjury and obstruction of justice charges stemming from his 2003 grand jury testimony in which he denied knowingly taking illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds is scheduled for trial this March in San Francisco.

If an indictment is returned against Clemens, it could set the stage for high-profile perjury trials for a generation’s top hitter and pitcher.

Perjury ain’t exactly murder one, but companion Bonds-Clemens trials would be absolutely huge, if for no other reason than it will totally kill the MLB-backed narrative that the Mitchell Report marked the end of the Steroid Era. Sure, the Barry Bonds trial has been on the docket for a long time, but there’s something dissatisfying about making him the sole repository for anti-PED sentiment. There’s personal baggage for one thing in that since everyone hated him when he played, there will always be a sense that to kill Barry any more than he has already been killed is piling on. There’s also the issue of race which, while I don’t see any relevance, causes many people to pull their punches, I think.

Pair Bonds’ trial with Clemens, however, and a much more appealing narrative emerges. One in which all of baseball’s sins can be more conveniently piled on Bonds’ and Clemens’ shoulders. One in which hitter is paired with pitcher, villain paired with (until recently) hero. Black paired with white.

It’s a story that most writers and historians will be unable to resist.

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  1. Ron said...

    Hey, if Congress can prosecute players for lying to them, why can’t we prosecute Congress for lying to us?

    I’m willing to chip for a lawyer for that.

  2. Pete Toms said...

    I think you are referencing the Mike Fish piece at ESPN today?  If yes, I thought this quote was interesting.

    “A retired FBI agent said that perjury cases involving high-profile defendants are becoming more common, telling “It used to be we didn’t mess with these kinds of cases. Everybody lied to us. Then, they got Martha Stewart on lying, and it became the flavor of the month.”

    As for Bonds and race.  A Seton Hall poll ( I’m in too big a hurry to look up when it was released ) revealed that there is/was a HUGE difference between how African Americans and non African Americans viewed this.

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