Clemens’s Lawyer Tries New Approach

The New York Times on April 24, 2012 released the following:

“By JULIET MACUR

WASHINGTON — Standing in front of the jury box, Rusty Hardin, Roger Clemens’s lawyer, spoke in a near whisper as he ended his opening argument Tuesday, begging jurors to realize that the government’s perjury case against Clemens is “tragically wrong.”

Hardin said: “God help me if we have reached a stage in this country where we make a federal case of denying you committed a crime. What guy, the evidence will scream out, would go to Congress and lie under oath, knowing what the consequences would be if he hadn’t done it? What man, except a crazy man, does that?”

Compared with his opening statement at last year’s mistrial, which was caused when prosecutors showed inadmissible evidence, Hardin spoke softer and in a markedly kinder tone. But the gist of his argument was similar.

Hardin called the case “a tale of two men” that pitted Clemens against Brian McNamee, Clemens’s former trainer, who says that he gave Clemens steroids and human growth hormone.

Unlike at the last trial, Hardin — known for a folksy style that helps him connect with jurors — did not call McNamee a liar or a dope dealer. This time, he let the government play the tough guy.

Clemens, the government argued on Monday, is so deceitful and dishonest that he created a “tangled web of lies” and told “other lies to cover up his lies” regarding his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

It was unclear whether Hardin’s new tone was his idea, or whether the prosecution had forced his hand in trying a different approach. The government had objected to many parts of the opening statement Hardin gave last year. Prosecutors also had complained that Hardin disclosed personal information to potential jurors during the questioning process, including that he used to live in Washington, where he said he and his wife saw Roberta Flack sing.

“He’s very good at what he does,” Courtney Saleski, an assistant United States attorney, said to the judge before the trial. “But we think it’s inappropriate.”

On Tuesday, Hardin took on a new set of jurors in his thick southern drawl. He elicited some smiles from jurors when he clumsily searched through paperwork, saying, “I’m not acting like Columbo. I am Columbo,” referring to the long-running detective show. He raised his voice only when he showed a map of the United States that listed the people the government had spoken to and the places it had gone as it tried to corroborate McNamee’s claims.

“I’m not talking about the waste of government resources; that’s not my issue,” he said before describing how the government interviewed 187 witnesses, wrote 268 interview reports and involved 79 interview locations and 103 federal law enforcement officers.

Hardin suggested it would have been easy to manipulate some of the government’s evidence to favor the prosecution. He called syringes and cotton balls that the government said had traces of steroids and Clemens’s DNA “the most mixed-up hodgepodge of garbage you could ever imagine.” He continued, “It is ludicrous to ever try to suggest that this is evidence of anything in a criminal case.”

He saved his harshest words for McNamee, portraying him as someone out to gain celebrity by bringing down Clemens.

But when it came to Andy Pettitte, a star government witness, Hardin turned friendly. He said the defense welcomed his testimony because it “would be one of the most convincing of all as to why Roger Clemens did not use H.G.H.”

Pettitte is expected to testify that Clemens told him in 1999 that he used human growth hormone, and that Pettitte had used the drug himself.

Only the first witness — Phil Barnett, a former staff director to the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform — took the stand before the court recessed until Monday.

Barnett, who is testifying to the legitimacy of Congress’s hearings regarding the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, was on the stand last year when the judge declared the mistrial.

Hardin did not have a chance to cross-examine him then. Next week, he will finally be able to do so.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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