What do you do after committing a horrendous legal error that causes a mistrial while attempting to prosecute a case in which it is far from clear there was any actual crime? If you’re the federal government, there’s only one answer. Re-try the famous defendant you’ve targeted in the first place simply because he was wealthy, obnoxious and unpopular. That’s the short explanation of the federal government’s decision to take another crack at sending baseball great Roger Clemens to jail for allegedly lying about taking performance enhancing drugs when called to testify at a show trial congressional hearing.
Even fans of the teams for whom he played found it hard to root for him. Now that the mud of the steroids scandal has been splattered over a career in which he won a staggering 354 games and struck out an amazing 4,672 batters (achievements that rank as, respectively, the ninth and the third highest totals in the history of baseball), he’s even less likable than ever. But that is no excuse for the government to waste more of its time and resources attempting to prove he lied when he denied using PEDs. There was no excuse, other than a congressional desire to grandstand in front of the cameras, for the hearings during which he allegedly made false statements. And there’s no excuse, other than the Justice Department’s desire to hang a famous scalp on their door, for a retrial of Clemens, especially after the first ended in a disastrous prosecutorial error that created a mistrial last summer.