Three and a half months after the perjury trial of Barry Bonds began in San Francisco, another legend of the game goes under the microscope as the perjury trial of Roger Clemens begins in Washington, DC. Clemens faces six criminal counts that include one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of false statements and two counts of perjury.
This whole process began in March 2005 when Congress held a hearing entitled "Restoring Faith in America's Pastime: Evaluating Major League Baseball's Efforts To Eradicate Steroid Use." (PDF) This hearing was meant to investigate the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in Major League Baseball. The resulting outcry led to Major League Baseball engaging former Ambassador, Senator, and Judge George Mitchell to develop a comprehensive investigation of PED use in MLB.
Mitchell's investigation resulted in a 409-page report (pdf) that implicated Roger Clemens in the use of anabolic steroids and Human Growth Hormone (HGH) multiple times in 1998, 2000, and 2001. In response to this report, Clemens issued multiple public statements explicitly denying his use of steroids and HGH. He also offered to testify accordingly before the Congressional committee.
On January 15, 2008, Congress held a hearing in which George Mitchell testified as to the findings of his report. A few days later, Congress officially invited Clemens to testify concerning the accuracy of the Mitchell Report. They did not issue Clemens a subpoena and he was under no legal obligation to testify. Additionally, he retained his Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer any questions that might tend to incriminate him.
On approximately February 5, 2008 Clemens provided a sworn deposition to the Committee's staff. He was placed under oath and due to the nature of the deposition, false statements held the same criminal weight as they would in the hearing itself. During the deposition, Clemens repeatedly stated that he had not used steroids or human growth hormone. Additionally, he testified that he had never possessed or seen HGH or anabolic steroids and he had never discussed the subject of HGH or anabolic steroids with anyone. A week later, Clemens testified before the full committee in a second Mitchell Report hearing. Once again, Clemens emphatically stated that he never took steroids or HGH.
Here is a look at Clemens' opening statement from the February 13 Congressional hearing. The first 4:30 is mostly fluff, but the final ten seconds is the first point in which Clemens says without equivocation, "Let me be clear. I have never taken steroids or HGH." You can view the entire hearing at C-Span's archives.
This truly is Roger Clemens' day of reckoning. He has vehemently denied using PEDs and he enthusiastically went before Congress to say so. Three years later, Clemens finally gets his day in court. If found guilty on all counts, Clemens faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine. As a person with no criminal record, he would likely receive a considerably reduced sentence if found guilty. Previous perjury guilty verdicts have resulted in as little as house arrest. Of course, even if he's found not guilty, he has long since been judged in the court of public opinion. The good news for Clemens is the public can't send him to federal prison.
Over the coming weeks, we'll be here every day to provide updates and analysis on the testimony and evidence presented to the jury. The trial is expected to last approximately four to six weeks. Jury selection begins Wednesday July 6 and will likely carry through the first abbreviated week of the trial. Once jury selection is complete, opening statements will begin.