Roger Clemens vs. Government, Round 2: Another Mismatch
"Andy Pettitte is my friend. He was my friend before this. He will be my friend after this and again. I think Andy has misheard," Clemens said. "I think he misremembers." -- Roger Clemens in front of Congress, February 2008
If you've been following the ongoing trial of Roger Clemens for perjury charges stemming back to his appearance before Congress in 2008 addressing allegations of steroid use in the Mitchell Report, then you know about how badly our government botched the first attempt to put Clemens behind bars, repeatedly presenting evidence that the judge had ruled out and leading him to call a mistrial.
That was in July 2011. Nearly ten months later, the government added more manpower but apparently not more brain power, as the one thing they couldn't allow their star witness (and former Clemens BFF) Andy Pettitte to do was admit to "misremembering" his conversations with Clemens about alleged HGH use in 1999.
So naturally, in Pettitte's second day of testimony, the prosecution allowed a cross-examination that got Clemens's defense team, including super lawyer Rusty Hardin, exactly what they wanted (courtesy of Associated Press):
Might Pettitte have misunderstood when Clemens supposedly acknowledged using human growth hormone to Pettitte in a conversation during the 1999-2000 offseason?
"I could have," Pettitte answered.
Is it fair to say there is a "50-50" chance that Pettitte misunderstood?
"I'd say that's fair," Pettitte replied.
In other words, Andy admits that he misremembered. Game. Set. Match.
So now the case will be made by Clemens's legal team to have Pettitte's testimony thrown out, which means the prosecution's case would now hinge on the testimony of Clemens's former trainer Brian McNamee, who is alleged to have injected Clemens with steroids. There's only one problem -- if lifetime rap sheet and shadiness equate to a lack of credibility, then McNamee is about as credible as Lenny Dykstra's investment advice at this point.
For his part, Judge Reggie Walton appropriately ridiculed the government prosecutors, asking prosecuting attorney Steven Durham why his questioning of Pettitte was so flimsy:
He repeatedly berated Durham, who was also part of the government team last July when prosecutors showed the jury a snippet of inadmissible videotaped evidence, prompting the mistrial.
"I was waiting for you to ask, and you didn't ask that," Walton said.
"My understanding is that (Pettitte's) position is at this time, he is conflicted. ... His testimony now before the jury is `I don't know," the judge continued. "I thought that what we would hear is, `Mr. Pettitte, currently, what is your memory of what Mr. Clemens told you back in 1999?"
In other words, the jury might have concluded that maybe Pettitte did "misremember" the conversation, as Clemens has claimed.
Durham tried to contend that he addressed the matter in a different way.
Whatever way he decided to do it, it didn't work. Roger Clemens is a soft toss away from walking off scot-free a second time, although the court of public opinion will probably ensure that he at least serves a sentence of banishment from the Hall of Fame and a lifetime of hushed snickers behind his back.
And in the end, after mountains of legal bills left to be paid by Clemens and the American taxpayers, the one winner of all of this will naturally be Rusty Hardin.
USA! USA! USA!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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