Jury selection has started for the Roger Clemens perjury trial. The former all-star pitcher is accused of lying under oath to Congress during hearings on the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Clemens claimed he never used HGH, but the government thinks otherwise.
U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton is presiding over the criminal trial, and has thus far, run a tight ship with jury selection proceedings. He pulled a panel of 50 prospective jurors from the D.C. area and will ultimately seat a panel of twelve jurors with four alternates.
Judge Walton worked with prosecutors and defense attorneys to create an 82-item list of questions, which includes a brief statement about the case. Judge Walton is addressing the questions to the jury and allowing the attorneys to follow-up as needed.
The questions posed by the Court are fairly mainstream. The most powerful question, in my opinion, is this: “Do you think Congress or any government agency should be involved in investigating and/or policing the use of steroids and other drugs in professional sports.”
A recent Gallup poll asked the public to assign a confidence ranking to 16 national institutions. Guess where Congress landed on that list? Dead last. 48% of participants reported having “very little” or “no” confidence in Congress. Surely this will have an impact on juror perception of the government’s case against Roger Clemens.
Based on my experience, jurors who express anti-government views or question the value of the Congressional hearings will likely be excused or formally struck for cause. After all, if jurors question Congress’s decision to investigate, they may question the decision to prosecute. If jurors question whether the expense of the hearings was a worthwhile investment of taxpayer dollars, they are likely to question the expense of a perjury trial. Couple this belief with the ongoing growth of our deficit and the need to increase the debt ceiling and jurors may further scrutinize government spending, which is certainly not a pro-prosecution perception. In addition, it’s possible that these jurors will hold prosecutors to a higher standard of proof simply because they disagree with the underlying decisions in the first place.
Batter up and use those strikes wisely!