Thursday, May 03, 2012

"You're taking positions that are totally absurd to me."

That was Judge Reggie Walton to the prosecutors during the Roger Clemens' trial yesterday.  What got him so upset?  According to SI:
Pettitte, Clemens' longtime friend and former teammate, was on the stand for a second day in the trial that is to determine whether Clemens lied at a 2008 congressional deposition and hearing when he denied taking steroids and human growth hormone.
During cross-examination, Clemens' lawyers got exactly the answers they wanted.
Might Pettitte have misunderstood when Clemens supposedly acknowledged using human growth hormone to Pettitte in a conversation during the 1999-2000 offseason?
"I could have,'' Pettitte answered.
Is it fair to say there is a "50-50'' chance that Pettitte misunderstood?
"I'd say that's fair,'' Pettitte replied.
The government tried to salvage their witness, but prosecutor Steven Durham's follow-up questions were lacking - at least in the minds of Clemens' lawyers and, more importantly, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton. Clemens' lawyers moved to strike Pettitte's testimony about the 1999-2000 conversation as "insufficiently definitive.''
The judge seemed to agree, openly wondering why Pettitte wasn't asked for a current, definitive recollection of the conversation. He repeatedly berated Durham, who was also part of the government team last July when prosecutors showed the jury a snippet of inadmissible videotaped evidence, prompting the mistrial.
"I was waiting for you to ask, and you didn't ask that,'' Walton said.
"My understanding is that (Pettitte's) position is at this time, he is conflicted. ... His testimony now before the jury is `I don't know,''' the judge continued. "I thought that what we would hear is, `Mr. Pettitte, currently, what is your memory of what Mr. Clemens told you back in 1999?'''
In other words, the jury might have concluded that maybe Pettitte did "misremember'' the conversation, as Clemens has claimed.
Durham tried to contend that he addressed the matter in a different way. The defense will file a brief in support of its position, and Walton could rule on Pettitte's testimony as early as Thursday.

It didn't get much better with the next witness:
Prosecutors had planned to call Steve Fehr, an attorney for the Major League Baseball players' union. Fehr was supposed to help show, in an indirect manner, that Clemens was aware that former Sen. George Mitchell had tried to contact Clemens when putting together the 2007 Mitchell Report on drug use in baseball. Clemens was named in the report, prompting Congress to call the February 2008 hearing at which Clemens testified.
Walton said he didn't understand what Fehr's testimony would accomplish and that it could amount to "trampling on the attorney-client privilege'' because it relies on Fehr's conversations with Clemens' lawyers. Walton said the government should use other evidence to show that Clemens was aware of the Mitchell request.
"Maybe I'm dense,'' Walton said, his voice rising. "I'm starting to think that maybe I just don't understand the law - because you're taking positions that are totally absurd to me.''
The government kept trying to argue its case, but Walton would have none of it.
"You're beating a dead horse, and you're not going to make it come alive,'' Walton said. "You're not going to win this one.''
Nevertheless, Walton said he would allow the government to do some research and file a brief before making a final decision.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

DOJ clearly has a win at all costs attitude. Very disappointing.