Jury for Clemens trial nearly finalized

Clemens trial jury nearly finalized

Jury for Clemens trial nearly finalized
WASHINGTON -- Judge Reggie Walton extended the third day of the Roger Clemens' federal perjury trial for almost 90 minutes Monday in order to allow examination of the final members of a pool of 50 prospective jurors, setting up Tuesday as the day the jury that will decide the former pitcher's fate will be chosen.

By the end of the day, only 35 from that pool were retained -- one short of the number Walton had hoped to retain to begin the next level of jury selection. Initially, Walton ruled it would not be worth the additional time to go through the 82-point screening questionnaire again with a second pool of 50 prospective jurors just to bring one more person into the pool, saying it would be from the group of 35 that the two sides will determine the 12 jurors and four alternates.

However, the court announced Tuesday morning that Walton changed course and decided to bring in 10 more prospective jurors in order to retain one more to reach the ideal number of 36, ensuring four alternates can be selected.

Once the screening is complete, the defense will be allowed to strike 10 jurors and the prosecution six after that to determine the panel of 12 jurors, and then each side can strike up to two apiece to determine the alternates.

After instructions are given to the seated jury, opening statements are expected to be delivered Wednesday.

Drug Policy in Baseball

Clemens, who won 354 games in 23 seasons that included 11 All-Star appearances and a record seven Cy Young Awards, is standing trial at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, charged with perjury, giving false statements and obstruction of Congress. Clemens is accused of lying when he said he never used performance-enhancing drugs during his testimony before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Feb. 13, 2008, and in a deposition behind closed doors eight days earlier.

For almost every prospective juror interviewed Monday, defense attorney Rusty Hardin asked questions aimed at ensuring each understood Clemens must be presumed innocent until the government proves beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty of any charge. He also wanted them to be clear that the defense does not hold any burden of proof and would not even have to put on a case or have Clemens testify, which may or may not be an indication of his trial strategy or whether Clemens will testify on his own behalf.

Monday's round of juror examination had fewer exclusions than either of the first two days of the process, with just four excused -- two for being unable to say for sure that they would be able to accept that the defendant has no burden of proof, another who said without explanation he couldn't be fair and impartial, and another after he said he disagrees with steroid use and might hold that against Clemens.

Hardin early in the day attempted to strike one juror for cause, contending the 20-year employee of the Department of Defense indicated he'd be inclined to believe government investigators at face value; Walton denied the motion, keeping the juror in the pool.

As on previous days, several people who worked in the federal government were interviewed, but there also were two yoga instructors and a retired chef. One elderly woman still in the pool is a first cousin of Al Bumbry, the former Orioles center fielder who also happened to be a coach at one time with the Red Sox when Clemens played for them. One man was asked by the prosecution, "Without naming your name, you're not related to a famous baseball player, are you?" He responded, "Derek Jeter? No."

A woman was kept in the jury pool after declaring, "I like Michael Vick. I thought he was done wrong." Another thought she recognized Clemens, but realized she was thinking of Roberto Clemente.

The retired chef was the most lengthy interviewee of the day. He worked for the Redskins for a few years and before that was a chef for President George W. Bush and the Republican Party. A football player at Syracuse for a time, he knew about steroids from hearing about NFL player Lyle Alzado's death being attributed to steroid use. He grew up in a tough part of Philadelphia and remains an Eagles and Phillies fan.

"I'm a regular Joe," he said. "I'm going to still love baseball no matter how this comes out."

As he exited the witness stand, the prospective juror put on his red Phillies cap -- only to be reminded by Judge Walton that he could not wear it in the courtroom.

Clemens, who played for the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros, is charged with six felony counts regarding 15 statements he made during his testimony before Congress and in the deposition beforehand. If found guilty on all counts, the maximum sentence would be 30 years, but previous convictions of professional athletes lying about their PED use have resulted in house arrest.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.