NEW YORK, NY (Feb. 17) – If a perjury indictment is returned against
7-time Cy Young Award winner
Roger Clemens, one noted
New York criminal defense lawyer fully expects the federal government to make an example out of the superstar
pitcher in a bid to deter anyone in the future from lying during a congressional hearing.
"This could turn out to be a perfect example of how the cover up is
worse than the crime," said
Steven Brill, a
New York criminal defense attorney and partner in the New York litigation firm of
Sullivan & Brill. In a February 12, 2009 article out of the
Associated Press, a retired FBI agent is quoted as saying that perjury cases involving
high-profile defendants are becoming more common, telling AP: "It
used to be we didn't mess with these kinds of cases. Everybody lied
to us. Then, they got
Martha Stewart on lying, and it became the flavor of the month."
"Even if he is found guilty of having taken performance-enhancing
drugs back in 1998, 2000 and 2001," Brill said, "from what I've
seen I don't expect Clemens to be charged with the underlying
drug crime. But there is no question that he will suffer because of his celebrity
if a perjury indictment is handed down by the grand jury.
"Congress does not like to be lied to," Brill warned. "If
he is convicted of perjury, he could be facing jail time."
Brill said that if Clemens is indicted and the case goes to trial, Clemens
lawyer, Rusty Hardin, will probably focus most of his energy on trying
to discredit Brian McNamee, Clemens' former trainer and principal
accuser, so that no credible evidence exists that could support a perjury
finding against Clemens.
"If Clemens stands by his statements," Brill explained, "and
McNamee is shown to be a liar, then the perjury charge cannot stand."
Looking ahead at what will probably happen to Clemens, Brill said that
once a witness gives sworn testimony that contains untrue statements on
a material matter in a case, there is not much more that can be done to
avoid criminal prosecution.
"For this reason, we always advise our clients of the risks and consequences
of testifying falsely, "Brill said. "It is human nature for
some people to lie when they are under fire and their future is on the
line. If we get the sense that a client is traveling down that road, we
strongly advise the client not to testify at all."
According to Brill, state and federal perjury charges are infrequent because
it is hard to prove that an individual willfully lied about a material matter.
"In a perjury case," he explained, "the government must
present evidence that proves not only that the defendant testified falsely,
but that he or she willfully made a statement which the defendant did
not believe to be true and that the matter about which the defendant is
testifying falsely is a material matter in the case.
"Clemens lying about his address or the names of his kids wouldn't
count," Brill said.