The judge overseeing the trial of Roger Clemens began screening 80 to 90 potential jurors for the ex-New York Yankees pitcher’s retrial on perjury charges.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton in Washington today began the process of selecting 12 jurors and four alternates by posing about 86 questions to the jury pool. He asked whether any of the potential jurors knew about the case against Clemens or had read about it in the media.
“We’re merely trying to ensure that the 12 people selected as jurors in this case decide it solely on the evidence produced at trial and no other factors,” Walton said.
Clemens, who made his Major League Baseball debut in 1984 and played for four different teams over 23 years, is charged with one count of obstructing a congressional investigation, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury in connection with a congressional probe of ballplayers’ alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. If convicted on all counts, Clemens, 49, would face as long as 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.
Walton declared a mistrial in July after finding that prosecutors improperly showed the jury a video clip of a 2008 congressional hearing in which the wife of government witness Andy Pettitte was discussed. Walton had ruled earlier that the government could make no references to Laura Pettitte, or an affidavit she gave Congress.
The trial, scheduled to last four to six weeks, will feature testimony from Clemens’s wife, former congressional investigators and major-league players, including former Yankees teammate Pettitte. Jury selection may take three days or longer.
Both sides today listed dozens of people who may be called as witnesses or who may be mentioned at trial including some of baseball’s biggest names.
The government’s list included Barry Bonds, the ex-San Francisco Giants outfielder and baseball’s career home-run record-holder; Brian Cashman, general manager of the Yankees; and Jose Canseco, Clemens’s former teammate who wrote a book about steroid use in baseball.
The defense list included Phil Garner, a former major- league player and manager; Jorge Posada, a catcher for the Yankees who retired last year; and Mike Stanton, a former teammate of Clemens from the Yankees.
After reading through the questionnaire, Walton ordered just 20 jurors to remain for individual questioning today by him and the lawyers. The other potential jurors were told they would be called back to court in groups of about 25 over the next three days as needed.
Of the four potential jurors interviewed before a lunch break -- all women -- three were ordered to return to court on April 18. They include: a cashier at a Giant food store who said she doesn’t like sports; an office administrator whose sister is a police officer; and a program analyst with the District of Columbia government who said she was glad that George Zimmerman was charged with the murder of Trayvon Martin.
The case is U.S. v. Clemens, 10-cr-00223, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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