Thursday, February 14, 2008

Clemens Posts Ineffective Outting; Craig's Stance Ruled Outside the Box

Roger Clemens’ performance in Washington yesterday was largely ineffective. Instead of his usual repertoire of fastballs, curveballs and sliders, Roger threw a strange, almost unbelievable assortment, consisting mainly of brush backs and wild pitches. However, this time Clemens was fooling no one and it was Clemens' friend and former teammate, Andy Pettite, who threw Clemens a devastating changeup.

A short distance from where Clemens was flailing away, umpires had ruled Larry Craig's wide stance to be outside the batting box, but failed to toss him from the game.

An Astros vs. Nationals baseball game in the nation's capitol? An intramural Senate Staffers softball game? Hardly. Rather, the above accounts described Clemens testimony Wednesday before the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee which was investigating steroid and performance enhancing drug use in major league baseball and the Senate Ethics Committee ruling, also Wednesday, that Idaho Senator Larry Craig had acted improperly when he was arrested in a MSP airport bathroom in an alleged gay sex sting last year.

As a criminal defense lawyer I can only scratch my head and wonder how an experienced attorney can let their client give sworn testimony in a tribunal where federal felony penalties for perjury attach without instructing their client to assert their Fifth Amendment Right under the U.S. Constitution to remain silent, unless of course they are granted immunity, preferably blanket immunity, but at least use immunity.

The leak to the press last week by Clemens' former trainer and alleged injector of steroids and HGH, Brian McNamee, that he had turned over to investigators bloody gauzes and syringes allegedly containing traces of Clemens DNA and banned substances, surely must have put Clemens lawyers on notice that their client was treading very thin ice, all issues of chain of custody besides. Complicating matters for Clemens was the release of an Affidavit by friend and former teammate, Andy Pettite, which alleged that Clemens had admitted to Pettite his use of performance enhancing drugs. In return for his affidavit, Pettite was released from having to testify live before the commission. In light of the above information, one can only presume that the arrogance that comes from being a professional sports legend overrode his high paid legal advice and resulted in Clemens' decision to testify.

Senator Craig seems to have fared better when his self-inflicted troubles were met with an appropriate response by the bi-partisan Senate Ethics Committee. Craig had initially attempted to explain his actions of tapping his feet and touching feet with the occupant of an adjacent bathroom stall, an undercover airport policeman, by characterizing his behavior as accidental, coincidental and as a result of his having a “wide stance" while defecating.

The Ethics Committee stated in a letter Wednesday:

“The conduct to which you pled guilty, together with your related conduct as set forth above, constitute improper conduct reflecting discreditably on the Senate and through this letter the Select Committee on Ethics, on behalf of and pursuant to authority granted by the United States Senate, publicly admonishes you for that conduct...

The Select Committee on Ethics resolves this matter through your public admonition so that, on behalf of the United States Senate, it may make known clearly that the conduct to which you pled guilty, together with the related and subsequent conduct discussed in this letter, is improper conduct which has reflected discreditably on the Senate."

The committee also criticized Craig for using more than $200,000 in campaign funds to pay legal fees related to his case and for flashing his Senate business card at the officer who arrested him. The letter said that move could be seen as an improper attempt to receive “special and favorable treatment."

The Senate Ethics Committee took no further action against the disgraced senator whose term is up this year and who has announced that he has no plans to run for re-election.

Clemens had better hope that he gets off so easy.

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