WASHINGTON (AP) — One-time baseball superstar Roger Clemens is in the midst of a tedious and humbling process that is one of the most important parts of his trial on charges of lying about drug use — selecting the jury members who will decide his fate.
So far the pitching great hasn’t gotten a lot of love from the line of Washingtonians who have been questioned about their fitness to serve on his trial, expected to last into August. There were some sports fans in the group, but most said they don’t know much about him.
“If he were sitting there, I would not know who he was,” one woman said, as Clemens sat facing her about 15 feet away.
Among those who said she follows baseball was a retired writer and lawyer who acknowledged Thursday that she wants to be a juror.
“I would like to be on this jury because I think I can keep people focused,” said the woman, who called herself a “die-hard” Washington Nationals fan.
Another person who said he knew a lot about Clemens and his case was 37-year-old Omari Bradley. The former personal trainer and Little League coach said he considers himself a fair person. But Bradley said he had to admit he would have a hard time finding Clemens not guilty after all he’s heard in the media about how the seven-time Cy Young Award winner should just admit he used steroids.
The judge excused Bradley.
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Clemens steadfastly denies the allegations made by his former trainer, who says he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs repeatedly as the pitcher maintained a blinding throwing speed into middle age. Clemens says the trainer, Brian McNamee, is a liar who fabricated evidence against him. McNamee gave federal agents their most important physical evidence in the case — needles and gauze the trainer said he used to inject the star athlete.
Clemens is accused of lying under oath to the House Government Reform Committee in 2008 when he denied ever using steroids or human growth hormone. He faces six felony counts of perjury, false statements and obstruction of Congress.
Prosecutors and the defense read the jury pool a list of people who may be called as witnesses or mentioned at the trial. The list included some of the biggest names in baseball, including others who have been at the center of the steroid scandal, such as Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco.
The list also included baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, former Yankees manager Joe Torre, former players’ union director Donald Fehr and several other officials and teammates from the four major league teams Clemens played for.
Jurors were asked about their knowledge of those figures as well as their feelings about the case, baseball, Congress and principles of criminal law. They were asked whether they had scientific training, played organized sports or were baseball fans.
One public relations consultant was not.
“I can’t imagine spending money to watch a sport where guys scratch themselves and spit a lot,” she said, drawing a smile from Clemens, who otherwise sat expressionless through most of the proceedings.
The woman said she could still be fair to Clemens, quipping that she doesn’t consider spitting and scratching crimes. She was qualified to serve along with six others so far. In addition to Bradley, others excused were a woman with medical issues and another who said she couldn’t be gone from work for the duration of the trial.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said he hopes to wrap up jury selection Tuesday morning.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)