(CN) – Former pitching great Roger Clemens asked a federal judge to throw out allegedly vague criminal charges accusing him of lying to Congress about whether he used performing-enhancing drugs.
“Even Roger Clemens cannot pitch a shutout if nobody knows the boundaries of the strike zone,” defense attorney Russell Hardin Jr. wrote in a motion to dismiss filed on Friday in Washington.
Attorneys for the seven-time Cy Young award winner claim that a potential jury will be confused by what the defense characterizes as “impermissibly vague” charges, which could result in a wrongful conviction.
Clemens was slapped with a six-count indictment back in August stemming from his testimony before a congressional subcommittee about the use of performing-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball.
The indictment accuses Clemens of obstructing Congress, perjury and making false statements. Clemens’ attorneys tried to pick holes in the government’s case with the filing Friday, claiming the charges are too devoid of specifics to meet the burden of proof for a conviction.
The motion argues that prosecutors had lumped 15 different allegedly “false and misleading” statements together into a single charge of obstruction, and that dismissal is necessary on the grounds of duplicity.
“The concern that a jury in this case may return a guilty verdict without unanimity is more than justified,” the filing states. “The wide-ranging allegations … create the danger for inequitable results.”
Trial is scheduled for July.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a separate motion requesting an inquiry into a potential conflict of interest involving Hardin and his firm, Rusty Hardin & Associates.
If the case proceeds to trial, prosecutors say Clemens’ attorneys should be barred from cross-examining Andy Pettitte, a government witness.
Hardin met with both Clemens and Pettitte in 2007 prior to the release of the Mitchell Report, a 409-page document on steroid abuse in the MLB written by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. Prosecutors say the meeting occurred in anticipation of the report, and that the attorney may have engaged in privileged conversations with the two ballplayers.
“Hardin and other members of his firm apparently talked to talked with Clemens and Pettitte separately about the potential of them being named in the report as alleged users of performance-enhancing drugs, allegations provided to Mitchell by Brian McNamee, a former trainer for Clemens and Pettitte,” the government’s motion states.
Pettitte and Clemens were teammates with the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros. Pettitte has since copped to taking humane growth hormones, reportedly to aid his recovery from an injury.
The 2006 report, which capped off a 21-month investigation, detailed multiple allegations of performance-enhancing drug use in professional baseball, including McNamee’s claim that he injected Clemens several times with anabolic steroids.
In Clemens’ testimony before Congress, the former star pitcher denied that he used steroids or HGH, denied that he had knowledge and gave approval to McNamee to inject him with HGH, and speculated that his former teammate and work-out partner Andy Pettitte misunderstood conversations the two had regarding HGH.
In January 2008, a House committee invited Clemens to testify about the accuracy of Mitchell’s report.
Under oath, Clemens repeatedly insisted that he never used steroids or human-growth hormone, both of which are banned in professional baseball, the grand jury charges.
“I am just making it as possibly as clear as I can,” Clemens testified in February 2008, according to the indictment. “I haven’t done steroids or growth hormone.” He later insisted, “I have never used steroids. Never performance-enhancing steroids.”
Clemens, nicknamed the Rocket, maintains that McNamee injected him only with the legal substances like vitamin B-12 and lidocaine.
Making his debut in 1984 with the Boston Red Sox at age 21, Clemens went on to win an unprecedented seven Cy Young awards over the span of his 24-year career, spent with Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays, the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros.
His 354 wins rank ninth in major league history, and his 4,672 strikeouts are good for third best of all time.