Clemens pleads not guilty at arraignment in Washington

Roger Clemens leaves federal court in Washington after Roger Clemens leaves federal court in Washington after pleading not guilty to charges of lying to Congress about whether he used steroids or human growth hormone. His attorney Rusty Hardin is at left. (Aug. 30, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

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WASHINGTON - Roger Clemens pleaded not guilty Monday in federal district court to charges related to his testimony before a congressional committee a few blocks away, the latest chapter in a more than two-and-a-half-year saga of performance-enhancing drug accusations.

Clemens, 48, appeared relaxed in court; he was tanned and wore a white shirt, khaki pants, a print tie and a black jacket. When asked to enter a plea, he loudly said, "not guilty, your honor."

He was released on his own recognizance.

Clemens quickly left the courthouse after the 15-minute hearing, along with attorney Rusty Hardin, and hopped in a waiting black Cadillac Escalade, declining to comment. A handful of fans shouted encouraging words as the former Yankees pitcher's vehicle pulled away.

The 200-seat courtroom was about half full, mostly with members of the media. A handful of fans lined up about an hour before the arraignment began, hoping to get a glimpse of the 354-game winner.

The charges - three counts for making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstructing Congress - stem from Clemens' appearance in February 2008 before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Clemens testified before the committee during its investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, and swore under oath he had not used PEDs. His former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, contradicted that claim, telling the panel he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone repeatedly between 1998 and 2001.

Clemens' testimony before the congressional committee came one month after an interview with "60 Minutes" during which he vehemently denied drug use, and two months after the release of the Mitchell Report, which mentioned Clemens' name 82 times.

Clemens has been silent about the indictment, issued Aug. 19, with his only comments coming on a Twitter post where he denied using performance-enhancing drugs and lying to Congress. "I look forward to challenging the Governments [sic] accusations," he said.

After consulting with Hardin and lead prosecutor Steve Durham, who both agreed to waive requests for a speedy trial, Judge Reggie B. Walton scheduled jury selection for April 5.

Walton also scheduled a Dec. 8 status hearing, to make sure the sides were ready to go to trial.

Both sides like the idea of a springtime trial, Hardin said.

Durham said Clemens' defense team received all discovery materials Monday on an unspecified number of floppy disks. The 34-page index spoke to the complexity and detail of the case.

Much of the evidence is scientific in nature and the defense team will want to carefully review it, Hardin said.

As part of the condition of release, Clemens will have to check in every two weeks with court officials. Durham asked Walton to require Clemens to surrender his passport, but Walton was not concerned about Clemens' being a flight risk.

"If he wanted to leave the country and someone wanted to find him, they'd know where he is," Walton said.

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