Clemens attorney's goal: reasonable doubt

Roger Clemens and his attorney, Rusty Hardin, arrive Roger Clemens and his attorney, Rusty Hardin, arrive at federal court in Washington. (April 16, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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WASHINGTON -- Rusty Hardin goes to work this week with one goal in mind: reasonable doubt.

The attorney for Roger Clemens, who is to start the defense's case Tuesday, is expected to rely on testimony from the star pitcher's former teammates and coaches, team broadcasters, medical experts -- and perhaps even Clemens' wife -- as he aims to raise questions about the case the prosecutors have laid out.

Hardin outlined his strategy in his opening statement when he said he will prove B12 shots were once rampant in baseball, that Clemens couldn't have been at outfielder Jose Canseco's pool party when prosecutors allege he was and that manipulating used needles to replace B12 with steroids is "very easy."

As the perjury trial of the former Yankees star enters its seventh week, those have emerged as key points of contention in the government's narrative.

Case hinges on raising doubt

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Whether Hardin can successfully raise doubt among jurors on those points could determine whether Clemens is convicted of lying to Congress four years ago, when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

"This is the first time anybody on Roger Clemens' behalf will have a chance to challenge the allegations," Hardin told jurors in his opening statement. "It probably comes as no great surprise, but we will not be shy in doing so."

The defense case, which Hardin has estimated will take "seven or eight days," also is likely to feature another showdown between the loquacious Texas attorney and Clemens' chief accuser, Brian McNamee, the former NYPD officer.

McNamee, of Long Beach, is still under subpoena and Hardin has indicated in court that he intends to call the government's star witness back to further cement his history of making inconsistent statements to authorities.

"You cannot go anywhere with the government's case," Hardin told the jury, "unless you believe beyond a reasonable doubt Brian McNamee."

The defense team, which includes attorney Michael Attanasio, also has laid the groundwork for testimony by the founder of the lab that successfully tested the needles McNamee says he saved from an injection he gave Clemens in 2001 for steroids.

Hardin said in his opening statement that the lab's founder and chief executive, Don Catlin, told prosecutors a month before the trial "it wouldn't require any high level of sophistication" to take a used needle and replace remnants of vitamin B12 with steroids.

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Lab founder likely witness

Clemens contends McNamee injected him only with B12 and the painkiller lidocaine. McNamee has already testified he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone. A former research scientist from the lab that did the testing -- Anti-Doping Research -- testified last week he found steroids, but not B12.

Prosecutors did not call Catlin as a witness, but he remains under government subpoena, and Hardin has made no secret of his plans to call him as a defense witness.

While Hardin has not said whether Clemens himself will testify -- legal experts doubt it -- Hardin has indicated that Debbie Clemens might take the stand.

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If she does, she is expected to dispute McNamee's testimony that he injected her with human growth hormone in the early 2000s in her master bathroom, under Clemens' direction.

Clemens, however, denied that before Congress four years ago, saying he wasn't aware McNamee injected his wife until afterward, leading to his having a heated conversation with McNamee. Debbie Clemens attended a pretrial hearing, but has not been allowed in court during the trial because she is a potential witness.

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