If there is one universal banality about the perjury trial of Roger Clemens available on the sports pages and talk radio stations today, it’s the following, which is a composite of actual quotes and for which I am providing no link, because the sentiment is ubiquitous:
Did Clemens lie? A trial will never really answer that question. Everyone has already formed his opinion on whether Clemens is telling the truth.
Either way, we all know a huge chunk of players took PEDs in the 1990s. That era of the game is forever stained regardless of the outcome of this trial. What is this trial going to accomplish? Is this really the best use of taxpayer money?
I just hope this trial is a short one, because I’d rather focus on the games being played now.
This being Overlawyered, one might suppose the appropriate point of view here would be along those lines. Certainly, from a libertarian point of view (when in Rome…), it’s hard to be sympathetic to any investigation or prosecution whose roots are in substance abuse. If taking steroids was or is a violation of a contractual obligation running from players to Major League Baseball, that would be an entirely private matter. Evidently it wasn’t, or to the extent that it was, MLB would rather not pick at that scab. Major League Baseball keeps lawyers busy with other things.
But we all acknowledge that prosecutors do and should, to some extent anyway, concern themselves with the laws that are “on the books,” which brings us back to that Sports Guy trope: “What difference does it make? Who cares? Why are you distracting me with those shiny objects?”
Dumb, dumb, dumb, Sports Guy!
Point One: It isn’t overlawyering to prosecute people who mislead law enforcement officials or lie under oath. Yes, people mislead police and prosecutors every day and aren’t prosecuted for it — but famous people often are, because civil disobedience by them can make for a very bad example. What better example of an example-setter is Bill Clinton, a one-man Chief Executive as sexual revolutionary, who had to turn in his law license to avoid a perjury conviction?
Clemens’s main problem was that he was put, rather unavoidably as Scott Greenfield explained at the time, in a perjury trap: [click to continue…]