Potential jurors in the perjury trial of Roger Clemens were asked for their feelings about Congress, the use of steroids in sports and their enthusiasm for sports as jury selection continued Thursday.
Through the morning, 11 potential jurors had made it through a rigorous selection process that started Wednesday. They will be part of a larger pool of 36 people from which the final 12 jurors will be drawn.
U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton wants the pool completed by Tuesday. So far, he has sent eight potential jurors home for reasons ranging from biases to work and health issues. The jurors are off Friday.
On Wednesday, the District’s federal court summoned 50 potential jurors to the courthouse and had them answer 82 questions that probed their knowledge of Clemens, steroids, crime and sports. On Thursday, federal prosecutors and defense lawyers were questioning each juror about his or her answers to those questions.
One woman, who used to practice law and was a writer, told the judge she was a “diehard” Nationals fan and wanted to be on the panel because she thought she could help “focus” the attention of jurors on the issues at hand.
Another woman said she didn’t care for baseball and had only been to National’s Park once to watch the opera. “My husband is a sports fan, so I often listen to sports news whether I want to or not,” she said.
Both women said they could fairly weigh the evidence in the case and were told to return for further proceedings on Tuesday.
A longtime Marine Corps civilian employee said she didn’t follow baseball much but was a “diehard” Redskins fan. That comment prompted chuckles in the courtoom after Rusty Hardin, Clemens’ attorney, noted that he and his client live in Houston, not Dallas, home to the Redskins’ rival Cowboys. She made it through to Tuesday.
At least two potential jurors said they felt Congress had been wasting taxpayers’ time and money when a House committee held hearings in 2008 on the prevalence of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. At that hearing, Clemens denied having ever taken steroids or Human Growth Hormone. However, his trainer, Brian McNamee, testified that he had injected Clemens with those drugs with the pitcher’s knowledge.
The House panel then referred the case to the Department of Justice to investigate to see which man lied. A grand jury last year indicted Clemens on charges of perjury, obstruction of Congress and making false statements. He could face serious prison time if convicted.
As he was questioned by prosecutors Thursday, one potential juror thought Congress should have focused on other issues, not the abuse of steroids by ballplayers. “Given all of the problems the country is facing, this would not have been one of my priorities,” said the man, a chief financial officer at a Washington-area accounting firm.
He was excused because he said he still might acquit Clemens even if the government proved him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.