|Government Trying to Make Example Out of Clemens||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on May 19, 2012
And maybe thatâ€™s why the government has gone so hard after Roger Clemens.Â Thatâ€™s not to say they have a very good track record going after star athletes.Â Rafael Palmiero walked away without even a hint of consequence for lying to Congress because they couldnâ€™t find proof.Â Barry Bonds escaped from perjury charges on his testimony before a Federal Grand Jury, and OJ got away with murder.
But Clemens lied to Congress, one of the perceived powers of the land.Â If the government didnâ€™t respond, or loses this case, then itâ€™s not just thought but crystal clear that the rich and famous can, and do, thumb their noses at the government and that the government is essentially impotent to stop them.
Photo by Keith Allison, used under creative commons license.
Thatâ€™s why millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent to bring Clemens to trial again.Â Yes, this is the second time around for this case. The first time it ended in a mistrial due to errors in the governmentâ€™s case.Â This time they hope they can get it right.
So here we are several weeks in to the trial and the case seems shaky.Â Star witness Andy Pettitte has already waivered on the stand while under oath and says he might have misunderstood the conversation he had with Clemens about using steroids.Â Clemensâ€™ lawyer got him to commit to a 50 percent chance that he had it wrong.
What that will mean when mixed with the testimony of other witnesses who have checkered pasts is unknown. They include Kirk Radomski (whoâ€™s been convicted as a drug dealer in regards to PEDs) and former trainer Brian McNamee whoâ€™s been painted time and time again as someone out to get Clemens.
No doubt they, as well as the federal agents who gathered the evidence and put together the case, will face some serious character assassination as Clemensâ€™ defense teams paints it all as a conspiracy to get a big star.Â Thatâ€™s the same tried and true defense that let Bonds, the poster boy for PED use, walk away from his perjury trial.
But what happens even if the government wins?Â Even the most optimistic (or jaded, depending on your point of view) sports journalists donâ€™t believe that any judge will sentence Roger Clemens to prison.
Yet weâ€™d hope as citizens, not as baseball fans, to think that if the government is spending millions of our tax dollars trying Clemens, that they believe they can actually win and send one of the most successful starting pitchers of all time to the pen (and we donâ€™t mean the bullpen).
Part of the problem might be finding a judge more interested in protecting the law than sucking up to Clemens for some face time and an autograph, like some members of Congress actually did when he gave the testimony that led him here.
Yet even with the right judge, and the inevitable appeals process that would follow, itâ€™s unlikely that Clemens would serve years of hard time behind bars.Â More likely heâ€™d be remanded to one of the minimum-security country clubs that serve as prison for the guilty rich in this country, and even then for a short period of time.
Regardless of the legal outcome Clemens has already been convicted in the court of public opinion.Â The fans believe Clemens used PEDs, the media believe it, and the government believes it too, though itâ€™s lying to Congress, not using steroids, that they are concerned with.Â It will hurt him in the voting, but probably not stop him from being voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Going to jail for lying to Congress wouldnâ€™t help his case, but Iâ€™m not sure it would stop him from getting into the Hall either.Â However it would give the government that much needed public relations success, someone who they can point to as an example of the wealthy and famous who didnâ€™t get away with it.Â
Iâ€™m sure that would bother Clemens a lot while he vacationed in minimum-security prison, hobnobbing with the handful of other elite who got caught and are serving out their slap on the wrist.Â No doubt heâ€™ll sign a lot of autographs there and maybe land a lucrative merchandising deal.
After all, it seemed to work out well for Martha Stewart.