WASHINGTON – Prosecutors said Friday that baseball star Roger Clemens was "wrong legally and factually" when he argued that a judge should dismiss his indictment on charges of lying to Congress.
Clemens argued in a motion filed last month that his indictment is vague and contains too many separate accusations of lying in one count – 15 in all.
Prosecutors replied in a court filing that the accusations can all be charged in a single count because they were part of one continuing scheme to obstruct a congressional investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
The prosecutors also pointed out that the alternative potentially would be far worse for Clemens – charging him with 15 separate counts of obstruction of Congress instead of the one would mean increasing his maximum punishment if convicted by 70 years in prison and $3.5 million in fines.
Clemens is to go on trial in July on allegations that he lied to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform during a deposition and subsequent hearing in February 2008. Prosecutors say the seven-time Cy Young Award winner lied when he repeatedly testified that he did not use steroids or human growth hormone during his 23-season career.
Clemens' motion argued that the multiple allegations of lying could cause jurors who don't unanimously agree to still convict Clemens in violation of his constitutional rights. For instance, the motion said some jurors might vote to convict, believing Clemens lied about using human growth hormones but not steroids, while others might vote to convict believing the opposite. The attorneys say the Constitution requires that any conviction be based on a unanimous verdict for each element of the charged offense.
The prosecutors replied that argument is "without merit" and could be easily addressed through proper injury instructions and a verdict form that lays out all 15 allegations of false statements to ensure the jury unanimously agrees on each point.
"Defendant's contentions are wrong legally and factually," the prosecutors wrote in their filing.