Civil lawsuit against Clemens clears hurdle

Civil lawsuit against Clemens clears hurdle

Civil lawsuit against Clemens clears hurdle
Not 10 days after Roger Clemens was acquitted on all counts in a federal perjury trial held in Washington, D.C., a hearing in New York City on Wednesday presented a reminder that Clemens' legal issues are not over.

Brian McNamee, the former strength and conditioning trainer whose testimony and evidence were key elements of the U.S. government's criminal case against Clemens, has a civil defamation suit pending against Clemens, and a status conference held Wednesday in Brooklyn at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York marked another step toward another trial involving the two men.

The civil suit, which seeks a jury decision on unspecified monetary damages, originally was filed on behalf of McNamee on July 31, 2009, claiming that Clemens "personally and through his agents, intentionally and maliciously made false statements of fact, of and concerning McNamee."

A defamation suit brought by Clemens against McNamee was dismissed in February 2009, but McNamee's suit appears headed for trial. The complaint was trimmed down last year to just a defamation case and not one for malicious prosecution or intentional infliction of emotional distress, but Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. did not grant the defense motion to dismiss the case.

According to media reports, McNamee attorney Richard Emery said after Wednesday's hearing that "[McNamee's] life has essentially been destroyed by this case," and that he hopes the civil case goes to trial within the next year. The New York Daily News reported McNamee's attorneys want to depose Clemens and his wife, Debbie, as well as Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte and his wife, Laura, for the civil trial.

The Daily News also reported that Johnson told attorneys, "You're not going to get a two-month trial here" -- a reference to the criminal trial, which took nine weeks and one day from the time jury selection began until the verdicts were announced -- and that Emery estimated the civil trial would last two weeks.

Clemens, a winner of 354 games and a record seven Cy Young awards, was acquitted June 18 on two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction of Congress in unanimous verdicts from a jury of eight women and four men at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. McNamee's testimony and the medical evidence he stored in a beer can and mailing box for more than six years did not convince jurors that Clemens lied to Congress when he denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs.

The legal road began with McNamee's accusations of Clemens' use of steroids and human-growth hormone published in the Mitchell Report. That was followed by depositions and testimony from both men before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in February 2008. Alleging Clemens was lying, the committee referred the case to the Department of Justice, and Clemens was indicted in 2010. In the second attempt to try Clemens after the first one in July 2011 ended in mistrial because of an error by the prosecutors, the jury heard from 46 witnesses over 26 days of testimony and returned with verdicts of not guilty on all charges after a little more than 10 hours of deliberations.

Clemens' attorneys have until Aug. 2 to file a response to the McNamee complaint, and another hearing in the civil case has been set for Sept. 7.

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