Hearing in McNamee's defamation suit against Clemens Wednesday
Roger Clemens had his day in court. Now Brian McNamee wants his.
A week after Clemens was acquitted of criminal perjury charges, the long-running legal squabble between star pitcher and trainer now turns to McNamee's defamation suit -- and the potential of a civil trial in which the burden of proof is much lower than in criminal court.
Lawyers for Clemens and McNamee reconvene in Brooklyn federal court this morning for a hearing in the civil case, which a federal judge had placed on hold until the criminal proceedings were over.
McNamee's lawyer, Richard Emery, said Tuesday he is hoping to "forge ahead as quickly as possible" with the case. Rusty Hardin, Clemens' lawyer, declined to comment. Neither McNamee nor Clemens will attend the hearing.
The defamation suit, filed more than three years ago, contends that Clemens slandered McNamee by saying the trainer lied about injecting the pitcher with performance-enhancing drugs, meaning a civil trial would once again focus on which man is telling the truth.
But unlike the recent criminal trial, in which a jury decided prosecutors failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, the burden of proof in a civil trial becomes preponderance of evidence -- more than 50-50 -- which legal experts say is a significantly lower standard for lawyers to meet.
Emery said he plans to depose Clemens, Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, their wives and several ballplayers who he says corroborate McNamee's allegations that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.
Clemens chose not to testify in the criminal trial that ended with his acquittal of six counts. The judge in that case also barred the jury from hearing Pettitte and former Yankee Chuck Knoblauch testify that McNamee told the truth about their drug use to federal investigators because he was concerned about a potential guilty-by-association verdict.
McNamee is seeking an unspecified amount of money for damages, and neither Emery nor legal experts expect Clemens to be willing to settle out of court to avoid another trial. "This is the same guy and set of lawyers that took on the government with Clemens' liberty at stake, and they won," said John Goldman, a partner in Herrick, Feinstein LLP. "I cannot imagine they're going to write a check to McNamee to settle this case."