During jury selection for the trial of Roger Clemens on perjury and obstruction of justice charges, Clemens’ attorney, Rusty Hardin, hinted that Clemens may not testify in his defense. Considering the nature of the charges and the questionable character of the prosecution’s chief witness, Brian McNamee, this may be a sound legal strategy. Paul Doyle of the Hartford Courant recently provided his analysis:
Clemens is accused of lying to Congress and federal prosecutors will begin presenting their case against him this week in Washington. It was his willingness to talk that got Clemens in this mess and that’s exactly why defense attorney Rusty Hardin will probably keep his client from the witness stand.
Doyle interviewed Michael McCann of SI.com and the Sports Law Blog, who opines that Clemens’ demeanor is not well suited to providing testimony in his defense:
“I think Clemens would labor to describe what happened,” said SI.com sports law columnist Michael McCann, a Vermont Law School professor. “The manner of how he speaks is not subtle. He doesn’t have nuance in what he says. He kind of comes across as overly bold or even arrogant. . . . That might play well in a clubhouse, but I don’t think that would play well in a courtroom.”
Most will agree that Clemens should not testify at trial. However, how will his attorney keep him off the stand? Remember Clemens voluntarily testified before Congress when so many other players refused to discuss the issue of performance-enhancing drugs (see Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, etc.). Clemens then went on “60 Minutes” to dispute McNamee’s story. So now that the stakes are highest, will Clemens take advice from counsel and sit this one out? Will a jury find it peculiar that Clemens was so vocal with his denial that he used performance-enhancing drugs only to clam up at trial?
Stay tuned, as time will tell.