Criminal defense attorneys deal with many types of criminal offenses, one that they see quite often is perjury. Perjury is, in the simplest sense, lying under oath and is considered a serious criminal offense. More specifically, perjury consists of a witness falsely swearing to tell the truth about matters that are likely to affect the outcome of a case. As defined by the Texas penal Code §37.02: “A person commits an offense if, with intent to deceive and with knowledge of the statement’s meaning: he makes a false statement under oath or swears to the truth of a false statement previously made and the statement is required or authorized by law to be made under oath.”
In the perjury case of Roger Clemens, the jury found insufficient evidence to support calling him a liar.
The government began to investigate Clemens, one of the best pitchers in baseball history, back in 2007, when a report created by the former United States senator George J. Mitchell exposed widespread steroid and H.G.H. use in major league baseball. In February 2008, Clemens testified to a Congressional committee that he had never taken steroids or H.G.H. and should not have been included in the report.
The strongest piece of evidence against Clemens was the testimony of Brian McNamee, a former trainer, who claimed that he had regularly injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs.
After one of the government’s key witnesses, Andy Pettitte, backtracked on the stand and claimed he was now only 50 percent sure of a conversation he had with Clemens where he supposedly admitted to having used H.G.H., it became a case of Clemens’ word against McNamee’s. Although McNamee did also provide medical waste that he claimed proved he had injected Clemens with steroids in 2001 and the cottons balls were, in fact, shown to contain traces of Clemens’ DNA, blood on a needle McNamee held on to was not a conclusive match. Clemens’s lawyer tore into McNamee’s credibility.
The verdict was: Not guilty on three counts of making false statements, not guilty on two counts of perjury, and not guilty on one count of obstruction. Clemens faced a maximum sentence of 30 years and $1.5 million fine if he had indeed been convicted on all six counts. While the Justice Department is likely to continue to remain watchful of steroid trafficking and tough on perjury cases, the case of Roger Clemens and the estimated $2 million-$3 million of taxpayer dollars used to reach this conclusion, might lead them to be skeptical of such steroid-related, and difficult to prove, perjury charges in the future.