WASHINGTON — A motion partially unsealed late Friday shows that prosecutors in the Roger Clemens case sought to keep out allegations made against the government’s key witness by his ex-wife.
In the motion, prosecutors urge the judge to prevent the former star pitcher from using the damaging information concerning the witness, Brian McNamee — including that as a police officer, McNamee once placed a beer can in a dead woman’s hand at a crime scene. The prosecutors argue the information is irrelevant to the trial.
The government had originally filed the motion under seal last month, arguing its contents would subject potential jurors to prejudicial information about McNamee.
In a pretrial hearing, an attorney representing The Associated Press and The New York Times urged U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to unseal the motion. He declined to do so, saying he shared the prosecutors’ fears that the information, if publicly disclosed, would complicate getting an impartial jury.
But when the jury was picked, Walton told the prosecutors that they would have to unseal information in the motion that wasn’t already sealed in the New York divorce proceeding.
Walton has not yet ruled on the government’s motion to keep the information out.
Clemens is accused of lying to Congress when he said he never used performance-enhancing drugs. McNamee, the pitcher’s former strength coach, says he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone multiple times, which Clemens denies.
In a motion to “preclude evidence, comment and argument regarding government witnesses’ prior bad acts,” the government seeks to exclude the following:
-A 2001 incident during a Yankees road trip to Florida in which police reports said McNamee was seen having sex with an incoherent woman in a St. Petersburg hotel pool. The woman told police she could not remember what happened, and the date rape drug GHB was found in her system. McNamee, who was never charged, denied he assaulted the woman but instead told police he was trying to pull her out of the pool and rescue her from drowning. But he lied to investigators, including denying he worked for the Yankees, and falsely denying knowing how the woman became incoherent. The prosecution says that with the exception of the false statements to police, the 2001 incident is inadmissible.
-McNamee’s “purported misconduct” as a New York City police officer. The prosecution says that in his unpublished manuscript, McNamee admits to being docked 30 days’ pay for losing his gun. He also says he “tried to create some humor to get a good laugh” by placing a discarded beer can in a dead woman’s hand at a crime scene. While he wasn’t disciplined, he admitted falsely telling a supervisor he didn’t touch anything at the scene.
“While distasteful conduct, Mr. McNamee’s action of posing the dead woman’s body with the beer can does not in any way relate to Mr. McNamee’s ability to tell the truth,” the prosecutors argue in their filing.
McNamee admits that he was disciplined for an incident that remains blacked out in the pleading but that he said he “did everything by the book that night” and that a desk sergeant failed to adequately oversee the prisoner.
Other areas the government seeks to keep out are McNamee’s alleged drug abuse, past financial difficulties and potential tax liabilities.
The Clemens team has said it will try to undermine McNamee’s credibility as a witness, including suggesting he had financial motives for his claims about injecting Clemens with steroids and HGH.
The trial resumes Monday after a five-day break.