Thursday, May 03, 2012

Prosecutors whiff on Pettite testimony at Roger Clemens perjury trial II

Roger Clemens' second perjury trial demonstrates the dangers of pursuing criminal prosecutions based on the personal political agendas of members of Congress. Much has been made of the fact that pitcher Andy Pettite told Congress he recalled Clemens telling him he'd used HGH, though he said in a past deposition he could have misunderstood the Texan pitching ace. In any event, he had never been cross-examined over the statement. When he was, according to the Washington Post, Pettite:
admitted that he might have misunderstood his close friend admit he took performance-enhancing drugs in 1999 or 2000.

Under cross-examination by defense lawyers, Pettite agreed that there was a “fifty-fifty” chance that he misheard Clemens when he testified earlier that “The Rocket” had confided in him that he had taken the drug Human Growth Hormone.
And with that the feds' case likely went down the drain. What a waste of time and money this witch hunt has been! Now it seems that Clemens will likely walk (and good for him): Pettite's testimony was what held the case together, with the only other witness a discredited, self-interested snitch trying to weasel out of prosecution himself.

Grits remains amazed that Congress and federal prosecutors have focused on baseball players and track stars when the much more problematic use of steroids from a public policy perspective occurs among cops and federal security contractors. Such skewed priorities IMO stem from sheer geek envy of jocks (and likely also undue deference to the security apparatus). Politics has been aptly called "show business for ugly people," and politicians compete with celebrities for the scarce commodity of public attention. Neither members of Congress nor federal prosecutors will ever hurl a fastball like Roger Clemens nor run as fast as Marion Jones, so some insecure pols feel the need to take such public heroes down a notch to elevate their own (oft-sullied) class. Sure, the public policy concerns abut cops and security contractors buying and using steroids from the black market have much more critical implications for the public than whether Roger Clemens juiced at a time when there was no law or Major League Baseball regulation banning it. But investigating those far more serious issues wouldn't get everybody's picture in the paper, at least not as often or predictably as hounding a celebrity from the capitol to the courts on trumped up charges.

For more, see a dedicated blog on the case at the Houston Chronicle.


Anonymous said...

Unbelievable that the prosecutors would not have taken the time beforehand to find out just how well their star witness remembered these key conversations. Talk about shoddy trial preparation. And if they did know the extent of Pettitte's uncertainty, then shame on them for going forward. 50/50 usually translates into "reasonable doubt."

ckikerintulia said...

50/50 should translate into reasonable doubt. But should and is are two different words. You never know about a jury, except that juries frequently (almost always?)give the benefit of the doubt to prosecution. At least that's true where I hail from.

The Comedian said...

Too bad the feds don't go after the Wall Streeters and Big Banksters that nearly destroyed our economy. Gold-in-sacks, Bunco of America, Morlock Stanley, Wells Farclosure, etc. are still going strong. But then we're supposed to "Look forward, not backward." Try telling that to a cop the next time you're stopped for a traffic violation.

Nearly tanking the world economy? Committing acts of torture that war criminals were executed for carrying out during WWII? "Look forward, not backward."

The possible use of steroids by a ballplayer? "You're going down mofo!"

rodsmith said...

now we just have to hope he's got the balls to file suit in the world court agaisnt the usa for violation of it's own double jeapordy laws and take every dime any of the idiots invovled in these two trials has or ever will have along with a great big hunk of the us's money...He could then ask for a judgement and seize any funds held by the US in any jurisdiction outside the united states....hell we do it to people all the time!