WASHINGTON -- The judge presiding in the new Roger Clemens perjury case said some jurors in the first trial told him that retrying the famed pitcher was a waste of taxpayer money, a newly discovered transcript shows.
U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton made the comment in a private, six-minute meeting with lawyers for both sides last September. That meeting came just hours before the judge ruled that Clemens must face another trial following the mistrial from two months earlier.
The comment came up when Walton disclosed in the meeting a chance encounter he had with a Justice Department attorney at a picnic for staff and former law clerks shortly after the mistrial. The attorney, who was married to one of the former law clerks, said something like, "Looks like you have to retry the Roger Clemens case," Walton recalled.
The judge said he responded, "Well, government counsel may want to talk to the jury."
The judge elaborated on that comment at the Sept. 2 meeting, telling lawyers for the government and Clemens: "The reason I wanted to do this in chambers and not do this in the courtroom is because I think what I'm going to say now would create a tremendous amount of publicity, which I don't think this case needs, and that is, some of the jurors had said that they felt it was a waste of taxpayers' money at a time when we have significant fiscal problems in our country to prosecute this case again because they felt that Congress has all of these other issues on their plate, they can't seem to solve them, so why are we spending money prosecuting this case."
Walton said it was up to the government to decide whether to proceed with the prosecution, but that he wanted to put his comment into context, and see if either side wanted to raise an issue about it. Neither did.
Walton did not specify how many jurors had told him that retrial would be a waste of money.
The transcript of that meeting was filed with the court clerk's office in January, where it was available to the public. It was not put on the court's electronic records system until this month, because of a 90-day delay before filings are made available electronically.
The question of whether jurors thought the investigation into Clemens was a waste of money came up during jury selection the first time, and it is certain to come up again in jury selection for the new trial, which begins Monday. The former pitcher is accused of lying to Congress when he testified in 2008 that he never used steroids or human growth hormone, during a House committee investigation into performance-enhancing drugs.
A woman who was pressed by prosecutors on whether Congress' investigation of drug use in baseball was a waste of taxpayer money responded, "Honestly, yes." But she said she could still fairly judge the case and was told to return as a possible juror.