By Stewart M. Powell and Regina Garcia Cano
WASHINGTON – Jurors in the case against baseball superstar Roger Clemens apparently are so bored with it all that U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton admonished lawyers Tuesday for the tedious pace of the trial.
"The case is not moving along as it should be," said the judge, who hinted that its slow progress is triggering inappropriate discussions among jurors that could provoke a second mistrial.
"Those folks are fed up because they see their time being wasted," he warned both the prosecution and the defense.
Walton specifically questioned the relevance of prosecutor Steve Durham using testimony by FBI agent John Longmire to introduce photographs Monday that included a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue photo of Debbie Clemens standing over her husband as he lay on the ground.
Unclear on charges
"I'm putting you all on notice – if I see irrelevant stuff going on in this case and not in compliance with the rules I'm going to interject myself," Walton said.
At least one juror approached Walton's law clerk to ask if the judge would advise the jury on exactly what the charges against Clemens are.
"Some of the jurors apparently see (evidence) that is far afield from the actual charges," Walton said.
The judge also ruled Tuesday that prosecutors' cannot talk about Clemens' $151 million in earnings as a pitcher, by which they had hoped to show motive for prolonging his career by using performance-enhancing drugs.
Walton said the testimony would have a prejudicial impact on the jurors, and specifically blocked prosecutors from introducing the $140,000 rookie year contract Clemens signed in 1984 with the Boston Red Sox, the first of four major league teams he played for.
Further, he said that Clemens' earnings could prejudice the economically diverse jury from the District of Columbia that includes a lawyer and a high-ranking Treasury Department executive as well as one juror who said he has been out of work.
Defense attorney Rusty Hardin suggested that the prosecution's bid to introduce Clemens' earnings amounted to "an attempt to inflame the jury" against a well-paid, seven-time Cy Young Award winner.
Clemens faces six felony counts of lying to Congress for sworn testimony before a House committee inquiry into drug use in 2008 in which the 11-time All-Star denied using performance-enhancing drugs.
Walton brushed aside arguments by federal prosecutor Gilberto Guerrero Jr., who contended that evidence would show Clemens "had not only a physical incentive but a financial incentive to keep playing" as his years on the mound added up.
"It's a real flaw in your theory of him allegedly using [steroids] to extend his career if during the last six or seven years of his career there is no evidence he was using," Walton added in remarks directed at the prosecution.
Bid 'to inflame the jury'
Clemens' highest earning years as a pitcher came after 2001, with an $18 million contract with the Houston Astros in 2005 and a $17.4 million contract with the New York Yankees in 2007.
Hardin said his client's chief accuser, former strength coach Brian McNamee, alleges that Clemens used performance enhancing drugs only over a three-year period ending in 2001 – seven years before his playing career ended.
"I defy (the prosecution) to put anybody on the stand that will say steroids will prolong a career," the defense attorney declared.