Clemens Judge Weighs Dismissing Fourth Juror From Trial
By Tom Schoenberg - Jun 5, 2012 12:29 PM ET
The judge in the perjury trial of Roger Clemens, the former New York Yankees pitcher accused of lying to Congress by denying he used performance-enhancing drugs, said he is considering dismissing a fourth juror, who plans to travel to Germany on June 19.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton in Washington told lawyers for Clemens and the government today about the juror, who will be out of the country for six months. Walton previously dismissed three other jurors, leaving just one alternate.
“I’m concerned that if he starts to deliberate there may be pressure to return a decision,” Walton said.
Walton said he hadn’t decided yet whether to release the juror. If he does and one more juror drops out, a mistrial may be declared. Court rules allow juries of fewer than 12 if both sides and the judge agree.
The judge said the juror indicated he wouldn’t be able to delay the trip.
Rusty Hardin, a lawyer for Clemens, told Walton that the trial might be over before then.
Walton said allowing the juror to deliberate “is very risky” given that jurors won’t get the case until June 11 at the earliest. The trial is scheduled to be recessed June 14 and 15 so Walton can travel to New Orleans for a conference.
Walton pointed out that jurors in the trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards deliberated for nine days.
“If that happens here, we’re in trouble,” he said.
Walton has raised concerns about another juror who he said may have been sleeping during portions of the trial. Two of the three jurors sent home earlier had been dozing during proceedings.
“Usually, defense counsel will be very reluctant to consent to trial by less than 12, unless he or she is very confident about the jury going their way,” Michael Madigan, a criminal defense lawyer at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in Washington, said in an interview.
Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is charged with one count of obstructing a congressional investigation, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury stemming from his testimony to the House panel. He faces as long as 21 months in prison if convicted.
Walton declared a mistrial during Clemens’s first trial in July after finding that prosecutors improperly showed the jury a video clip of a 2008 congressional hearing in which the wife of a government witness, Andy Pettitte, was discussed. Walton had ruled earlier that the government could make no references to Laura Pettitte or an affidavit she gave Congress.
The case is U.S. v. Clemens, 1:10-cr-00223, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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