Roger Clemens trial: a rougher road than Barry Bonds had?
Slugger Barry Bonds was convicted on one of four perjury and obstruction charges, in connection with a probe of illegal steroid use. Ex-pitching ace Roger Clemens faces six charges – and may have a harder time avoiding conviction, experts say.
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Where Bonds faced a hometown and arguably more liberal San Francisco jury, Clemens is being tried in the nation's capital, where juries historically tend to be more conservative and are more likely to see lying to Congress as a major no-no.Skip to next paragraph
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The Bonds case included little physical evidence, but prosecutors in the Clemens trial are likely to offer as Exhibit A video from the 2008 testimony, in which Clemens challenged congressmen and dismissed parts of the Mitchell Report. Written by respected former Sen. George Mitchell of Maine, the report provides the most facts and in-depth analysis of major league sports doping to date. "Let me be clear," Clemens testified. "I have never taken steroids or HGH [human growth hormone]."
Another weapon in the prosecution's case against Clemens is Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, Clemens' former good friend, a devout Christian, and a respected straight shooter who has no ax to grind against Clemens. His testimony has the potential to be damning. Prosecutors in the Bonds case had one objective key witness against the slugger, but her testimony about witnessing Bonds inject a needle in his stomach ultimately failed to sway one member of the jury.
Moreover, in Bonds's case, trainer Greg Anderson spent time in jail himself rather than testify against Bonds. Brian McNamee, Clemens's former trainer and friend, has been a cooperative witness for the government (though Clemens's defense is likely to try to discredit his checkered past).
Last, Clemens has himself provided prosecutors with ammunition. He did not have to testify before Congress in 2008, but instead he came out swinging, boldly declaring his innocence on national TV.
"Clemens has really been the instrument of his own self-destruction here," says Professor Keane. "Barry Bonds didn't want to be anywhere near that grand jury. They sort of laid a trap and he walked right into it. Clemens didn't have to appear before Congress at all and by his attitude and total denials of things that there's a fair amount of evidence that existed, Congress had no other choice" but to push for perjury charges, he adds.
The trial is expected to last into August.