WASHINGTON -- The law firm and the congressional committee that investigated drugs in baseball are fighting Roger Clemens over access to evidence collected against him, a development that could delay the trial on charges he lied about being a user.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the firm that produced the Mitchell report filed motions in federal court in Washington on Friday to quash Clemens' subpoenas. Clemens wants to see their evidence acccusing him of using steroids and human growth hormone, likely looking for weaknesses or inconsistencies in witness testimony to defend himself in the criminal trial scheduled for July.
In 2006, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig hired former Sen. George Mitchell and the DLA Piper firm he worked for at the time to investigate allegations that players used drugs. The Mitchell report, issued Dec. 13, 2007, accused several players including Clemens.
The House committee held hearings on the report in February 2008. Clemens testified that he never used performance-enhancing drugs during 23 seasons, in which he recorded 354 wins and 4,672 strikeouts and won seven Cy Young Awards. Prosecutors say evidence proves that he did and charged him with perjury, false statement and obstruction of Congress.
Clemens wants DLA Piper to turn over material related to its interviews with his longtime personal trainer Brian McNamee, who told investigators he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs; admitted steroid user and retired player Jose Canseco; and former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, who McNamee said provided the drugs Clemens used.
Clemens' subpoena to the committee covers its communications with those three men and 17 other people, including retired baseball players Chuck Knoblauch, C.J. Nitkowski and Andy Pettitte and staff from all four teams Clemens played for -- the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Houston Astros.
The firm said most of the material Clemens is seeking is covered by attorney-client privilege. The committee said its evidence is protected by the constitutional separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches.
The House counsel's office argued that the committee has already provided all witness statements, including interview transcripts, declarations, affidavits and letters for all the witnesses Clemens cited. The exception was Radomski because he never made a statement to the committee. But the committee wants to keep its internal notes, memos and communications out of the criminal matter.
The firm said it found 25 documents that would fall under the subpoena. It said it turned over five documents to Clemens, including a letter to Canseco requesting his cooperation, an email exchange with Canseco's attorney setting dates for an interview, a letter Mitchell sent to Canseco's attorney requesting access to his medical data, a declaration that a DLA Piper attorney wrote regarding the firm's interviews of McNamee and a letter to Radomski reimbursing him for $36 in parking fees.
But the firm argued the judge should prevent Clemens from having access to 20 internal documents, including notes and memos from their interviews with the three men and a summary of a telephone discussion with Canseco's attorney about Canseco's online drug purchases.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton has scheduled an April 21 hearing for arguments over the subpoenas. Walton predicted that the dispute could end up in appeals court, but he hoped it wouldn't further delay the trial that has already been pushed back three months so Clemens' legal team can review voluminous evidence already turned over.