WASHINGTON — Roger Clemens stood and uttered "Morning" to the 90 potential jurors who had gathered in the ornate, sixth-floor ceremonial courtroom, the one deemed big enough to hold them all. After he sat down, he swiveled his chair, as if trying to make eye contact with as many as possible.
Some of those looking back had no idea who he was. Others, including two who survived the first cut, wondered if it was a waste of taxpayer time and money that got him to this point.
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was back in court Monday in the government's second attempt to prove that he misled a House committee at a landmark drugs-and-sports hearing in 2008. The first trial last July ended in a mistrial when prosecutors introduced inadmissible evidence after only two witnesses had been called.
One potential juror said he felt "it was a little bit ridiculous" when Congress held hearings on drug use in sports because he felt the government should have been focusing on bigger problems. Nevertheless, the native of Chile — an investment officer for an international bank — was asked to return, the only male to remain in the jury pool among those who were individually screened on the first day.
Another potential juror recalled the 2008 hearing by saying: "At the time, I remember thinking it didn't seem to be a great use of taxpayer money," but she was kept in the pool after she said she could be impartial.
"Even if I don't agree with the reason that you're brought before Congress, you still have to tell the truth. … If you perjure yourself before Congress, it's still illegal," said the woman, who is an executive for an environmental nonprofit organization.
But another potential juror was excused after she volunteered: "I don't know if that's the best use of government tax dollars at this time." She said her feelings could influence her ability to serve.
Clemens lawyer Rusty Hardin even hinted that perhaps the defense might challenge Congress' authority to call the hearing in the first place, but U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton was skeptical of that line of questioning. The judge reminded lawyers again that some of the jurors from the first trial felt a retrial would be a waste of taxpayer money, adding that one of the hurdles in the case is that some people think "we have some significant problems in this country that are not being addressed by this Congress."
Clemens faces a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine if convicted on all six charges. Maximum penalties are unlikely because Clemens doesn't have a criminal record, but Walton made plain at the first trial that Clemens was at risk of going to jail.
Under U.S. sentencing guidelines, he probably would face up to 15 months to 21 months in prison.
BONDS GIVEN EXTENSION: Barry Bonds has been given an extension until May 4 to file written arguments in his appeal to overturn his obstruction of justice conviction.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday granted a second extension request by Bonds' lawyers, which had been filed Friday. The original deadline had been March 21 before the court granted an extension last month to April 20.
Under the new schedule, the government will have until June 4 to respond. After that, Bonds' lawyers will have another 14 days to file a reply brief if they so choose.
Dennis Riordan, Bonds' appeals lawyer, said in a filing to the court that his office could not meet the April 20 deadline because of several other cases in which it was involved.
SIENA GIVING JETER HONORARY DEGREE: Call the New York Yankees captain Dr. Jeter.
Shortstop Derek Jeter will receive an honorary doctorate from Siena during its May 13 commencement.
Siena, in Loudonville, N.Y., says it chose to give the degree to Jeter "in recognition of his leadership, accomplishments on the baseball field and dedication to improving the lives of young people through his Turn 2 Foundation."
"It means a lot to me, it means a lot to my family for a lot of the work that we've done," Jeter said Monday night before the Yankees hosted the Minnesota Twins.
BRAVES TO RETIRE NO. 29: The Braves are retiring John Smoltz's number.
Atlanta announced Monday that Smoltz's No. 29 will never be worn by another Braves player. Smoltz also will be inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame at Turner Field. The ceremonies will take place June 8.
Smoltz is the only pitcher with at least 200 wins and 150 saves.