Clemens retrial begins with jury screening
Roger Clemens stood and uttered “Morning’’ to the 90 potential jurors who had gathered in the ornate, sixth-floor ceremonial courtroom, the one deemed big enough to hold them all. After he sat down, he swiveled his chair, as if trying to make eye contact with as many as possible.
Some of those looking back had no idea who he was. Others, including two who survived the first cut, wondered if it was a waste of taxpayer time and money that got him to this point.
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner and former Red Sox pitcher was back in a Washington court Monday in the government’s second attempt to prove that he misled a House committee at a landmark drugs-and-sports hearing in 2008. The first trial last July ended in a mistrial when prosecutors introduced inadmissible evidence after only two witnesses had been called.
One potential juror said he felt “it was a little bit ridiculous’’ when Congress held hearings on drug use in sports because he felt the government should have been focusing on bigger problems. Nevertheless, the native of Chile - an investment officer for an international bank - was asked to return, the only male to remain in the jury pool among those who were individually screened on the first day.
Another potential juror recalled the 2008 hearing by saying: “At the time, I remember thinking it didn’t seem to be a great use of taxpayer money,’’ but she was kept in the pool after she said she could be impartial.
“Even if I don’t agree with the reason that you’re brought before Congress, you still have to tell the truth . . . If you perjure yourself before Congress, it’s still illegal,’’ said the woman.
By the end of the day - after the proceedings had moved to a smaller courtroom - only 13 potential jurors had been screened and just seven had been asked to return Wednesday for more screening.
The retrial is expected to last four to six weeks, with the first several days devoted to finding 12 jurors and four alternates with no preconceived opinion about the case.
Lawyers on both sides read a list of 104 people who could be called as witnesses or whose names could be mentioned during the trial, including former sluggers Barry Bonds and Jose Canseco; baseball commissioner Bud Selig; New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman; baseball writer Peter Gammons; and former Clemens teammates Paul O’Neill, Jorge Posada, and Mike Stanton.
Perhaps the most important name was Brian McNamee, Clemens’s former strength trainer, who says he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone and says he kept used needles that will be entered as scientific evidence at trial.
Clemens faces a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine if convicted on all six charges. Maximum penalties are unlikely because Clemens doesn’t have a criminal record, but Walton made plain at the first trial that Clemens was at risk of going to jail.
Under US sentencing guidelines, he probably would face up to 15 months to 21 months in prison.