WASHINGTON — Among the 29 questions the Roger Clemens jury wanted to ask the pitcher’s chief accuser, Brian McNamee, one cut to the heart of the case.
“Why should we believe you when you have shown so many inconsistencies in your testimonies?”
“I won’t ask that,” U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton declared during a bench conference with trial attorneys to decide which juror questions he would read. “That’s for them to decide.”
jury trial, leaves federal court in Washington on Monday. There was no testimony yesterday." title="GETAWAY: Former trainer Brian McNamee, the star witness in the Roger Clemens perjury trial, leaves federal court in Washington on Monday. There was no testimony yesterday." width="300" height="300" src="/rw/nypost/2012/05/23/sports/web_photos/brian_mcnamee--300x300.jpg" />
GETAWAY: Former trainer Brian McNamee, the star witness in the Roger Clemens perjury trial, leaves federal court in Washington on Monday. There was no testimony yesterday.
Or it could be the juror believes McNamee, but wanted to play devil’s advocate just to make sure.
The court did not sit yesterday because the judge had another obligation, a timely pause following five-plus grueling days of testimony from the government’s key witness.
Clemens is charged with lying to Congress when he testified in 2008 he had never used steroids or human growth hormone. McNamee, Clemens’ longtime strength coach, says he injected Clemens with steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001 and with HGH in 2000. He is the trial’s only witness to claim firsthand knowledge of Clemens using those substances.
The subjective nature of a jury trial makes score-keeping impossible, especially when considering this jury cares little about baseball and knew little or nothing about Clemens at the outset. The government might end up having the better case, but by then the jurors might have been put off by a plodding presentation by prosecutors that is literally putting people to sleep. Two jurors have already been dismissed for dozing off during a trial now in its sixth week.
Clemens’ top lawyer, Rusty Hardin, could have the opposite problem. He is colorful, witty and displays the type of courtroom personality lacking by the government, but his scattershot method of cross-examination is confusing and sometimes hilarious. The panel could perceive Hardin as someone putting on an act that’s more style than substance.
The trial was always going to revolve around McNamee’s credibility — it’s not an understatement that he is 95 percent of the government’s case — so the jurors’ impressions of him are crucial.