The Rocket Strikes Out Again In Court

Team Rocket lost another battle in court today as Federal District Court Judge Keith Ellison reaffirmed his ruling from earlier this year that dismissed most of Roger Clemens's defamation suit against Brian McNamee. The portions of the suit that had been dismissed dealt with Brian McNamee's statements to the feds and George Mitchell about Clemens's steroids/HGH use. And when he originally dismissed those claims, the judge stated that the statements were immune from suit because they were part of a criminal investigation.

In reaffirming that opinion, Ellison stated that he was refusing Rocket's request to punish McNamee, writing "if (Clemens) believes that the federal investigators or the Mitchell Commission overstepped the bounds of the law, he is free to bring suit against those enemies, subject to possible immunity defense. This court, however, is solely concerned with the behavior of (McNamee). The Court will not accept (Clemens') invitation to thwart the government's allegedly 'coercive' behavior by punishing (McNamee), who was the target of that behavior."

Still standing is the part of the defamation suit arising from McNamee's statements to Andy Pettitte about Clemens using performance-enhancing drugs. But there's a slight problem here for Clemens, in that while McNamee may have told this Pettitte, which would possibly make the statements defamatory if they were untrue, Pettitte has testified that he and Clemens discussed Clemens using HGH -- that's what Pettitte is supposed to have misremembered. There can't be defamation if the statements are true, and while it's not known for sure if McNamee's statements are true, the Rocket also can't sue for defamation if he actually affirmed to Pettitte that he was taking such drugs.

And there's more trouble coming for Clemens as McNamee's attorneys stated earlier today, upon hearing of Judge Ellison's ruling, that they were going to be filing a defamation suit against Clemens in New York later this month. "We will welcome him to New York to litigate," McNamee attorney Richard Emery told the New York Daily News. "We'll file a complaint by the end of July on defamation and other claims by McNamee."

And while I'm sure Team McNamee is just dying for revenge, I think a defamation suit against Clemens will be equally difficult for them to win. Primarily, Team Rocket has accused McNamee of being a drug dealer, and they have accused him of rape in an incident in Florida when McNamee was working with for the New York Yankees. As ugly and hurtful as the statements are, there is a modicum of truth to them, as McNamee was illegally dispensing drugs in the form of steroids and HGH, and while no charges were filed against McNamee about the incident in Florida, he was the primary subject of the police investigation -- both The Rocket That Fell To Earth and American Icon make it clear that McNamee was guilty of no crime, that he was protecting some other Yankee players and coaches, and that he probably saved the woman's life.  

As for the Rocket, just as with every big, important game he ever pitched in his life, he's once again being destroyed and failed to perform in the clutch. I would expect that he'll ultimately drop the remaining portion of the defamation suit against McNamee in order to not be killed in court by Pettitte. And if he really wants to get his version of the truth out there, he's probably just going to have to write that promised book

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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal