Clemens acquitted on all counts in perjury trial
By John Schlegel / MLB.com | 06/18/12 8:14 PM ET
WASHINGTON -- After deliberating for about 10 hours following more than nine weeks in the courtroom, a jury found Roger Clemens not guilty of all charges at his federal perjury trial on Monday.
Standing before the media gathered outside the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse, where the trial was held for 35 court days at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Clemens could not contain his emotions, which began to spill out in a Clemens family hug in the courtroom once Judge Reggie Walton and the jury departed following the announcement of the verdict.
"All you media guys that know me and followed my career," Clemens said, choking up and then being bolstered by applause from his contingent of attorneys and family, "I put a lot of hard work into that career."
A jury of eight women and four men agreed that it was hard work and not performance-enhancing drugs that made Clemens a winner of 354 games and seven Cy Young Awards in his 24-year career, finding him not guilty on all six charges, including all 13 obstructive acts alleged by the government in the obstruction charge.
Clemens, 49, was indicted in 2010 on three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of Congress based on his February 2008 testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which was investigating the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
Clemens denied all along that he'd ever used PEDs, as had been alleged in the Mitchell Report based on information provided by Brian McNamee, his former strength and conditioning coach for the better part of a decade. McNamee testified before the same House committee and at the trial, but much of his testimony was contradicted by defense witnesses, and the evidence he saved for six years in a beer can and a mailing box apparently was not credible enough to sway the jury.
Defense attorney Rusty Hardin -- echoing a line he used when the first attempt to try Clemens wound up in a mistrial last July -- said, "It is a beautiful day" during the impromptu press conference under drizzly skies outside the courthouse. Crediting his legal team and Clemens himself for riding out the storm, Hardin made it clear this verdict vindicates his client in the legal system, and hopes it goes beyond that.
"I hope that those in the public who made up their mind before there was a trial will now back up and entertain the possibility of what he has always said: Using steroids and HGH is cheating and it was totally contrary to his entire career," Hardin said. "If anything was shown in the trial, it's that this man from 16 to 45 was the same, same person."
Added co-defense counsel Michael Attanasio: "In baseball, there's a saying that some guys are just a class act. The way [Clemens] conducted himself in his darkest hour, with all these accusations that were being made against him that were false, showed what a class act he is, not just a ballplayer but as a man, as a family man."
According to a court official, the jury decided as a group not to discuss the case with the media afterward and had been transported from the courthouse within minutes of the verdict.
Although prosecutors Steven Durham, Daniel Butler and Gilberto Guerrero did not comment outside the courthouse and fellow Assistant U.S. Attorney Courtney Saleski was not present for the verdict, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia released the following 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. The U.S. Attorney's Office also wishes to thank the investigators and prosecutors, who pursued this case with tremendous dedication and professionalism after its referral to us from Congress."
The verdict brings to a close a process that began more than four years ago with Clemens' appearance before Congress, and ends a trial that began April 16 just down the street from the U.S. Capitol complex. The first attempt to try Clemens last July ended in a mistrial because of a prosecution error.
After repeated and public denials following the release of the Mitchell Report, Clemens testified in a Feb. 5, 2008, deposition and at a nationally televised Feb. 13, 2008, hearing that he never used performance-enhancing drugs.
McNamee, who worked with Clemens as a strength and conditioning trainer for the better part of a decade, was cited in the Mitchell Report and then testified before the same congressional committee and at the trial, saying that he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs numerous times from 1998-2001. McNamee said he saved needles, vials and medical waste in a Miller Lite beer can and a FedEx box after injecting Clemens in August 2001, and that became key evidence in the trial.
Clemens, who did not testify in his own defense at trial, testified before Congress that McNamee only injected him with vitamin B12 and lidocaine. A little more than two years after that testimony and Congress had referred the matter to the Department of Justice, a federal grand jury indicted Clemens.
Following a jury-selection process of more than five days, jurors heard from 46 witnesses over the course of 26 days of testimony, followed by closing arguments last week, before Walton sent them into deliberations on June 12. The case was expected to last four to six weeks, but it entered its 10th week when jurors returned to their deliberations Monday after a four-day break.
McNamee was the pivotal figure in the trial, and he spent more than a week on the stand as a prosecution witness. He told jurors that Clemens first asked him to give him a "booty shot" of steroids in June 1998, and that became the first of at least a half-dozen injections he gave Clemens that year in Toronto. After they reunited in 2000 because Clemens lobbied to have McNamee join him with the Yankees, McNamee said he injected Clemens with both steroids and HGH in 2000 and steroids in 2001.
McNamee testified that following an August 2001 injection of Clemens, he brought evidence of the injections home to show his wife, who had been upset about the time he spent training Clemens. At her insistence, he said, McNamee kept the items, putting them in the beer can and mailing box and keeping them in his home for more than six years before turning them over to federal authorities in January 2008, about a month before the depositions and hearing on Capitol Hill.
By the time testimony from forensic experts was complete, jurors had discovered that some of the items were connected with others, including McNamee himself, but that two cotton balls and a needle contained both Clemens' DNA and residue of steroids. However, the needle had only six to 12 white blood cells that could be tested -- providing a 1-in-449 chance the DNA on that item belonged to him, compared to a 1-in-trillions chances on the cotton balls.
After calling it "garbage" from opening arguments onward, the defense called witnesses who suggested the items had been commingled and that there was likely cross-contamination, or even manipulation by McNamee. Hardin and Attanasio set the stage for those assertions in the defense case as part of attacks on McNamee's credibility throughout the trial, including attempts to introduce prior bad acts from McNamee, whom they portrayed as a troubled and addicted man.
McNamee was contradicted by his estranged wife, Eileen, who denied that she had anything to do with saving the items. Clemens' wife, Debbie, also contradicted his story about when and how he injected her with HGH, saying it happened in 2000, not 2003, and that Roger Clemens was not there when McNamee said he was. Also, Andy Pettitte had testified before Congress that Clemens once told him that he'd used HGH, but under cross-examination agreed that he was 50-50 on that recollection.
After the jury announced it had a verdict around 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, Clemens was among the last to arrive in the courtroom -- Hardin said he and his sons were working out near the Washington Monument a couple of miles away. But Clemens arrived at about 4:40 p.m., dressed in a tan suit with a blue shirt and orange tie. Debbie Clemens and their four sons took their spots in the family section of the courtroom for when the verdict was read.
Juror No. 7, a man who works for the Treasury Department who himself had testified before Congress, took a wireless microphone and read off "Not guilty" verdicts to each of the charges Walton read to the jury.
Minutes later, the Clemens family huddled closely in tears near the defendant's table in the courtroom. "It's been a hard five years," Clemens told the media afterward.
And now that five years is over for Clemens and his family, and his legal team. With acquittals across the board after barely more than a day's worth of jury deliberations, the Clemens team happily walked together around the side of the courthouse following the media briefing -- the U.S. Capitol in plain sight before them as they walked up Constitution Avenue.
A reporter asked Clemens whether this meant he might make the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Clemens replied, "I'm not even thinking about that."
Before the Clemens family and legal team made their walk around the side of the courthouse, Hardin summed up the experience.
"It's a day of celebration for us," Hardin said. "Let me tell you something: Justice won out, and all those things we say about what this is supposed to be about came through."