Judge urged to bar some Clemens' lawyers arguments

FREDERIC J. FROMMER Associated Press Published:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal prosecutors in the Roger Clemens perjury trial urged the judge Monday to bar Clemens' lawyers from arguments they say will encourage jurors to nullify the law and acquit regardless of the evidence.

In a pre-trial motion, prosecutors referred to several lines of argument Clemens' lawyers made at the opening of last summer's trial, including asking jurors to put themselves in the former pitcher's shoes; maintaining that the government was wasting money on the prosecution; and referring to possible penalties Clemens faces.

"In this case, evidence, comment and argument concerning punishment are improper because the potential penalty faced by defendant is irrelevant to the jury's determination of guilt or innocence," the prosecutors said in their motion filed with U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton.

Last year's case ended in a mistrial after prosecutors showed jurors inadmissible evidence. Clemens, one of the most successful pitchers in baseball history, is accused of lying under oath when he testified before Congress in February 2008 that he never used performance-enhancing drugs in his career. Prosecutors will try to prove he used steroids and human growth hormone. Clemens says the evidence was manufactured by his former trainer.

A new trial is to start April 16, and prosecutors urged the judge to bar any reference to the first one as irrelevant. They also asked Walton to bar other "other irrelevant matters" that came up in the first trial, such as the fact that Clemens' heroes didn't use performance-enhancing drugs.

And prosecutors said the judge should bar "self-serving hearsay" that they said surfaced in the opening argument by Clemens' legal team. That includes a defense statement that Clemons had "given talks to kids all over the country against steroids, that your body was your temple. You don't put these things in there. You don't cheat. You don't take the easy way."