Tales from the Trail

Judge in Clemens steroids case has brush with another baseball star

February 2, 2011

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton probably feels like he is living and breathing baseball these days. He is presiding over the case about whether former pitching ace Roger Clemens lied to Congress about not using steroids and human growth hormones, and he comes from the same hometown as baseball superstars Ken Griffey Sr. and Stan Musial.

RogerClemensDuring a brief court hearing on Wednesday, Walton alerted the lawyers involved in the case that he had run into Griffey Sr. a couple of months ago in their tiny hometown of Donora, Pennsylvania, and that the former outfielder remarked that  Clemens was “a good guy.”

Walton said that he told Griffey Sr. that he could not discuss the case with him and that “I don’t believe he was seeking to influence me.” The judge said he wanted to alert both sides about the incident so they had the opportunity to raise any objections they might have.

Clemens’ lead defense lawyer, Rusty Hardin, quipped: “Are we allowed to say amen?”

The prosecutor was a little more circumspect, raising no objection about the incident.

The court hearing was held to resolve a potential conflict-of-interest by Hardin who previously was retained by another pitcher, Andy Pettitte, who was also caught up in the baseball steroids scandal and could be a witness for prosecutors during Clemens’ trial.

Hardin said he only worked with Pettitte for about six days. To resolve the potential issue, Hardin has agreed to have his co-counsel, Michael Attanasio, do any cross-examination of Pettitte should he be called as a witness during the trial.

Hardin also said he had taken steps to ensure no privileged information he had from those conversations were used by the defense team. 

Clemens, 48, who won the Cy Young Award seven times as his league’s best pitcher, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstructing the U.S. Congress.

The trial is scheduled to start in July.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Jeremy Pelofsky

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