The trial of Roger Clemens has reached a crucial juncture – the testimony of Brian McNamee, Clemens’ former trainer and the only person who claims to have witnessed Clemens use performance-enhancing drugs. The cross-examination of McNamee by Clemens’ lawyer, Rusty Hardin, is intriguing on a number of levels including Hardin’s trial strategy and showmanship. ESPN’s Lester Munson continues to do a superb job covering the trial and cross-examination of McNamee:
Only 45 minutes into his cross-examination of former Roger Clemens trainer Brian McNamee, attorney Rusty Hardin deftly placed a huge, hand-lettered poster board next to McNamee with the words “MISTAKE,” “BAD MEMORY” and “LIE” in block letters.
For the next two hours, each time the jurors looked at McNamee as he tried to respond to Hardin’s questions, they saw the three words that will be the themes of Hardin’s attack on McNamee’s character.
In another excellent piece, Michael McCann of SI.com writes of the significance of McNamee’s testimony:
The significance of McNamee to the trial cannot be overstated. He is the only person who can testify with supposed first-hand knowledge of Clemens using steroids and HGH. The next most intimate witness, Andy Pettitte, testified last week and could only offer a recollection of a conversation he had with Clemens from 12 years ago in which Clemens may have acknowledged using HGH. McNamee, in other words, is the government’s case.
If jurors firmly believe McNamee, they will likely convict Clemens of perjury, regardless of how they evaluate the other witnesses and evidence. Clemens, in such a scenario, must have knowingly lied when flatly asserting that he never received steroids or HGH and that McNamee only injected him with legal substances (vitamin B-12 and Lidocaine). For jurors to believe McNamee and not convict Clemens would require them to deduce that Clemens — a world-class athlete — somehow didn’t understand the contents of his trainer’s injections, which occurred repeatedly in 1998, 2000 and 2001, and thus did not “knowingly” lie under oath. If that sounds hard to believe, it is.
I continue to ask myself the same question – why did Clemens subject himself to this? I can only speculate that his testimony before Congress began as a public relations strategy, not a legal strategy. It appears that Clemens sought to clear his name and let him, in retirement, be the hero and be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Those actions, of course, led him into a serious legal matter that now hinges upon whether a jury believes Brian McNamee.