Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Updated: June 22, 8:45 AM ET
Prosecutors try to block accusers' probe
WASHINGTON -- Roger Clemens and the prosecutors who have accused him of lying about using performance-enhancing drugs submitted a flurry of motions Tuesday ahead of next month's criminal trial, with the baseball star trying to limit his former teammates' testimony about drug use and the government trying to block revelations about his chief accuser's investigation for sexual assault.
The filings revolved around the prosecution's leading witness -- former Clemens trainer Brian McNamee, who says he injected the seven-time Cy Young Award winner with steroids and human growth hormone. Clemens has steadfastly disavowed using drugs and is scheduled to go on trial July 6 on charges that he lied when he made those denials during congressional testimony.
Trial is expected to last four to six weeks in federal court in Washington, just a couple of blocks from where Clemens testified before Congress in 2008. Prosecutors wrote that the large volume of evidence "makes this case out of the ordinary and unlike many other white-collar criminal cases."
The prosecutors revealed that they expect to call about 45 witnesses, including officials from Congress, Major League Baseball and expert witnesses who will testify about scientific evidence -- presumably from the syringes that McNamee said he used to inject Clemens. They said they will use electronic displays in the courtroom to show the jury evidence, including Clemens' own statements from the hearing, his deposition, media interviews, telephone calls and email.
Clemens said his former New York Yankee teammates Chuck Knoblauch and Mike Stanton and a former McNamee client named Anthony Corsco are on a list of potential witnesses that prosecutors provided to the defense team on June 10. Clemens' attorneys wrote that although they all are expected to testify they got drugs from McNamee, none of them have any direct evidence regarding their client and never spoke to Clemens about drugs. They said McNamee's "third-party drug dealing" with those men would be "irrelevant and unduly prejudicial."
"This argument, however, makes as much sense as saying that because a drug dealer sold illegal substances to three different, uncharged people in a criminal defendant's neighborhood, the drug dealer must have sold to the defendant as well," the attorneys wrote.
Also on the prosecutors' witness list is former Yankee Andy Pettitte, who has said that he got human growth hormone from McNamee but also that he discussed it with Clemens. Because of that, Clemens' attorneys said they are not trying to prevent Pettitte from testifying that he got drugs from McNamee. But they asked the judge to prevent prosecutors from arguing to jurors that because McNamee injected Pettitte, he also must have injected Clemens.
The Clemens team also asked that Pettitte's wife, Laura, be prevented from testifying about how her husband told her that he talked to Clemens about drugs. The defense argued that those conversations are hearsay, along with any that McNamee may have had with other witnesses about whether he injected Clemens.
Meanwhile, prosecutors want to limit what Clemens' attorneys can ask McNamee about a sexual assault investigation that the government lawyers said could "inflame the jury." McNamee was questioned by Florida police as a suspect in a October 2001 sexual assault. Clemens' attorneys have consistently raised the Florida investigation as evidence that McNamee is a troubled man who cannot be trusted.
McNamee was never charged, but he admitted lying to police. At the time, McNamee was an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the New York Yankees and had accompanied the team to a series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Police reports said McNamee was seen having sex with a drugged and incoherent woman in a St. Petersburg hotel pool. The woman told police she could not remember what happened but she did not give McNamee permission to have sex with her, and witnesses reported hearing her saying, "No." The date rape drug GHB was found in her system.
The Yankees did not renew McNamee's contract after the investigation, but Clemens continued to work out privately with McNamee for years. Clemens' attorneys have said McNamee told Clemens he was falsely accused and had only been trying to pull her out of the pool.
Assistant U.S. attorneys Steven Durham and Daniel Butler wrote in a motion filed Tuesday that Clemens' lawyers have a right to ask McNamee whether he made false statements. They said they expect he will admit he lied when he said he didn't know another Yankees employee who was at the hotel and that he didn't know how the woman became incoherent.
But they asked U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to limit Clemens' attorneys from further questioning him or revealing the investigation was for a sexual assault or that McNamee was a suspect. They also said the defense should be prevented from introducing any outside evidence of what occurred.
"There is only one proper way for the defense to elicit evidence of McNamee's misstatements to the Florida authorities: by asking him whether he made misstatements," the prosecutors wrote. "Once Mr. McNamee answers that question, the matter is done."
The prosecutors said such limits will "assure defendant's ability to engage in meaningful cross-examination as to Mr. McNamee's character for truthfulness, without distracting the jury by inflammatory, unduly prejudicial evidence, and by a side-show mini-trial of collateral issues."
The prosecutors said they have given Clemens the entire police file, including a transcript of McNamee's voluntary interview, but are keeping the police file out of public records to protect the identity of the woman involved.