In search of a dozen impartial jurors for the perjury trial of former baseball star Roger Clemens, a judge Monday probed the exercise habits, sports preferences and political views of 90 Washingtonians called to jury duty at the District’s federal courthouse.
Clemens is on trial for a second time, charged with lying to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs. His first trial was cut short after just two days last summer because of an error on the part of government lawyers.
Seated in the regal sixth-floor ceremonial courtroom Monday, Clemens faced potential jurors as U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton explored their biases and beliefs from a list of more than 80 questions.
Had these Washingtonians ever attended a major league baseball game? Did they have opinions about Congress? Would they be able to refrain from searching the Internet for news about the highly publicized trial that is expected to last up to six weeks?
In a preview of the trial, government prosecutors and defense attorneys said they might call as witnesses or discuss during the proceedings a long list of former and current baseball players, including Clemens’s former teammate and friend Andy Pettitte.
Monday’s proceedings were sprinkled with moments of levity — and reminders of what a small town Washington can be. Some potential jurors interviewed Monday said they were not familiar with Clemens, baseball’s most-decorated pitcher, or his career.
One said she did not watch baseball because “it’s too long” and acknowledged that she would rather be at work than potentially assigned to a trial for up to six weeks.
Another potential juror told Walton that she had heard at her Capitol Hill wine shop that Clemens was in town last weekend in preparation for the trial and dining at the Capitol Grille. The woman said she doubted her ability to be impartial because of the view she expressed during that conversation of the government’s decision to retry the case.
“I don’t know that it’s the best use of government tax dollars at this time,” the woman said. Walton promptly dismissed her.
Dressed in a gray suit and gray-striped tie, Clemens strode through the courthouse Monday mostly without being approached by fans or well- wishers. During a lunch break, however, a catering employee greeted him as “Roger, my man.”
Clemens is not charged with using performance-enhancing drugs; he is charged with lying about them to Congress in 2008 during testimony before a House committee investigating the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional baseball.
To show that Clemens lied, the government will have to show that he did use steroids or human growth horomone.
This item has been updated.
Read more: Clemens trial coverage