WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A judge on Wednesday delayed the trial of Roger Clemens for three months until July 6 on charges the former pitching star lied and obstructed a congressional investigation into whether he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Clemens’ lawyer Rusty Hardin said the defense team needed more time to go through the tens of thousands of pages of documents turned over by prosecutors and that they needed to retain an expert witness to testify on the pitcher’s behalf.
The trial, which Hardin and prosecutors said could take some six weeks, had been set to start with jury selection on April 5. The defense team had wanted to delay the trial to September while prosecutors recommended June.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said he had other cases pending and set July 6 “for the commencement of jury selection.”
Clemens, who won the Cy Young Award seven times as his league’s best pitcher, pleaded not guilty in federal court in August to three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstructing the U.S. Congress.
In February 2008, Clemens denied using steroids and human growth hormone to the staff of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and again during a congressional hearing. He was under oath both times.
The accusations that he used the performance-boosting drugs came from former trainer Brian McNamee. Clemens said McNamee fabricated the charges and he was only injected with vitamin B12 in 1998. The indictment said the B12 shots never happened.
Clemens’ legal team is also seeking additional documents or evidence from the Mitchell Commission, which investigated the use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids and human growth hormone, but has faced resistance.
Hardin said that the commission staff has argued that it does not have any exculpatory evidence that would help Clemens and that some of its work is protected by attorney-client privilege.
“We’re not comfortable with their view of what is exculpatory or not,” Hardin told the judge. He said that it could require subpoenas and a fight over the material.
The 2007 report by former Senator George Mitchell named more than 80 former and current baseball players suspected of having used banned substances including steroids and human growth hormone.
Additional reporting by James Vicini, editing by Eric Beech