Mistrial is Right

Can the long witch hunt against Roger Clemens finally end?

The shocking attempt by federal prosecutors this morning to sneak into Roger Clemens’ trial a video that contained evidence already ruled inadmissible by Judge Reggie Walton revealed they believed they could get away with anything. But it is just the latest in a long, inexcusable witch hunt against one of the greatest pitchers of our day.

The idea that prosecutors this high in the legal food chain could have done this inadvertently, as they may argue down the road, is too preposterous to dignify with a discussion.

Judge Walton had no choice but to declare a mistrial.

This witch hunt against Roger Clemens began when the government decided to make him the scapegoat for its failed crusade against performance-enhancing drugs, even though the spirit of the Mitchell Report called for amnesty for past violators.

Then the bizarre immunity agreement between Clemens’ former strength coach, Brian McNamee, and federal prosecutors appeared. An immunity agreement is fashioned in a criminal case where the government forgives a defendant for his criminal acts in return for his cooperation. It is a relationship between the government and an individual.

George Mitchell represented a private corporation, Major League Baseball, and not the government. Immunity or “proffer” agreements are only supposed to be arranged when the government intends to prosecute a defendant absent his cooperation. Brian McNamee has testified that he was told he was not a target, so why did he need an immunity agreement at all?

Indeed, it is my opinion that federal prosecutors were not sincere about either prosecuting Brian McNamee or helping George Mitchell investigate performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.

In hindsight, it looks as if they used the Mitchell investigation merely to get McNamee’s allegations against Clemens into a deposition, so that they would have a legal excuse to pursue Clemens, against whom they had no physical evidence.

They used a similar tactic in 2010, when they allowed Brian McNamee to suggest he might have gotten paid for supplying steroids and HGH through Clemens’s Houston foundation, again providing a legal excuse for the FBI to investigate Clemens.

The long-standing feud between baseball writers and Clemens ensured that he would never be able to quietly walk away. Reporters hounded him day and night. Clemens absolutely could not defy them, because they are who votes players into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

So Clemens went to Washington to try and tell his side of the story.

But Congressman Henry Waxman’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held such one-sided inquisitions during both the depositions and television hearings, Clemens would never get his chance.

The witch hunt against Clemens may have ended with T.S. Eliot’s proverbial whimper instead of a bang. So be it. The judge declared a mistrial today, but Clemens has been treated unfairly for far too long.

Hansen Alexander attended UT when Roger Clemens was pitching. He lives in New York and is working on a book about the Clemens saga.

 

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