Clemens attorneys can seek evidence: Judge
A federal judge in the District on Wednesday authorized attorneys for Cy Young award-winner Roger Clemens to subpoena Congress and baseball's Mitchell Commission to turn over evidence gathered in their investigations of the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Both the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Major League Baseball investigation led by former senator George J. Mitchell have declined to turn over information related to Clemens.
At the brief hearing Wednesday, the judge also delayed Clemens's trial from April to July 6. The pitcher was indicted in federal court in D.C. on Aug. 19 on charges of lying to Congress after he told committee members that he had never used steroids or human growth hormones in February 2008.
The Mitchell panel had invoked attorney-client privilege, and the House cited the Constitution's separation of powers in withholding materials from the executive branch that are related to congressional "speech or debate," Clemens's lawyer Rusty Hardin said.
The Mitchell probe took 21 months and purported to "release to the world what he [Clemens] said to them," Hardin said. "We aren't confident in their view of what is or is not exculpatory."
U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton authorized Hardin to issue subpoenas with a return date of March 14. If Congress or the commission move to quash the requests, Walton could decide the matter next year.
Neither Charles P. Scheeler, the Mitchell commission's lead counsel, nor spokesmen for the committee of its then-chairman, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), immediately returned requests for comment.
The skirmishing came as the defense team for baseball's most decorated pitcher digested 54,000 pages of evidence turned over so far by prosecutors in one of sport's biggest doping scandals.
The change in trial date to July means baseball could be set for a season of scandal, with slugger and career home run leader Barry Bonds slated to go to trial in March on charges that he perjured himself before a federal grand jury investigating steroids use.
"The government had 2-1/2 years to investigate, and we're reviewing materials from a 2 1/2-year-long investigation," Hardin said, adding that 80 to 90 law enforcement personnel kept files related to the Clemens case.
Prosecutor Steve Durham did not object to either the postponement or request for records.
"There is nothing in the government's possession ... that we have not turned over" to the defense, Durham said. "We would not oppose continuing" the trial date, he added.
Clemens, 48, dressed in a black pinstriped suit, black shirt, and silver paisley tie, sat facing the judge with his back turned to the public seating area of the courtroom for most of the hearing. On leaving the courthouse in Washington, the legendary pitcher was asked how he felt, and answered with a hearty, "Wonderful."
Clemens faces up to 15 to 21 months in prison under federal guidelines if convicted on all six counts of obstructing justice, perjury and lying to Congress cited in his indictment.
Prosecutors relied on the 2007 Mitchell report and the testimony of Brian McNamee, Clemens's longtime friend and personal trainer, who said he personally injected the star pitcher with steroids and human growth hormones between 1998 and 2001 and turned over vials and needles he stored to investigators.
Clemens and McNamee later contradicted each other under oath in sworn testimony to House lawmakers and investigators.
Clemens has repeatedly denied McNamee's accounts, saying after his indictment, "I never took HGH or steroids... And I did not lie to Congress."
Clemens won an unprecedented seven Cy Young Awards as the best pitcher in the league during a 24-year career for the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Houston Astros.
[This post has been updated.]
Spencer S. Hsu
| December 8, 2010; 10:01 AM ET
Categories: Celebrities, From the Courthouse, Spencer S. Hsu, The District
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