WASHINGTON — Jury selection in the Roger Clemens perjury case is dragging on like a midsummer baseball snoozer that features drawn out at-bats without any action. In this case, the halting, methodical legal process involves hour-long rounds of questions of potential jurors, with no end in sight.
The mind-numbing task of choosing a jury for Clemens’ retrial has gone on for more than two days and might not be done by the end of the week.
On Wednesday, Clemens, who once wore the pinstripes of the New York Yankees, showed up in a dark pinstriped suit for the second straight day. After going through security, he mentioned to his lawyer that he had gone for a run from the Capitol to the Washington Monument.
The only quick rounds of questioning involved jurors excused for one reason or another — including some who said religious prohibitions against judging others would prevent them from serving. One told U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton that justice was in God’s hands.
“Who’s supposed to do it while we’re here on Earth?” Walton replied.
On Wednesday morning, three of six jurors were approved to return Thursday.
The court is narrowing the initial jury pool of 90 to 36, from which to select the final 12 jurors and four alternates who will decide whether Clemens lied when he denied using steroids and human growth hormone before a U.S. House committee in February 2008. The extra 20 are needed because Clemens’ lawyers are allowed to strike 12 candidates and prosecutors eight — without giving any reason.
By midmorning, 38 Washingtonians had been questioned, with 18 — 12 women and six men — getting Walton’s initial approval.
“We’ve got to move this along,” Walton said.
Among those who earned the judge’s initial approval was a woman who said she was a distant relative of Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller. The day before, another juror who was asked back said her dad played minor league baseball.
The Feller relative, a former deputy assistant secretary at the Treasury Department during the Reagan administration, volunteered that she is a friend of Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole. But she said her friendship with Cole — they’re in a wine-tasting group together — wouldn’t prevent her from giving Clemens a fair shake.
On Tuesday, Clemens’ lawyer offered some clues to his strategy once testimony gets under way, including a challenge to whether Congress had a legitimate purpose in holding the hearing at which the seven-time Cy Young Award winner testified — and whether Clemens’ testimony was voluntary.
During questioning of one potential juror, Clemens’ attorney, Rusty Hardin, raised the issue of whether Clemens truly “voluntarily appeared” before Congress. Clemens was not subpoenaed to testify at the 2008 hearing, and the government has always maintained that he testified on his own will.
Clemens’ lawyers also filed a memo with the court arguing the government must show that the hearing was a “competent tribunal.” The memo listed a dozen “examples of congressional conduct that exceeds the power to investigate,” including “asking a witness to appear before a committee to give him an opportunity to tell his side of the story.”
“There’s going to be a challenge by the defense as to the propriety of the hearing … and the way it was conducted,” Hardin told one prospective juror.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
Clemens jury selection could drag on all week
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