Jury selection began Monday for what is expected to be the four-to-six-week perjury retrial of former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens.
Clemens is accused of lying to a House committee in 2008 by saying he had never used performance-enhancing drugs during his 24-year career. He could face 15-to-20 months in prison if found guilty.
Clemens' first trial last year ended on the second day of testimony when lawyers for the Justice Department inexplicably showed jurors evidence that had been ordered excluded from the trial. A former trainer, Brian McNamee, said he injected Clemens several times with steroids and human growth hormone. McNamee said he kept the needles he used to inject Clemens and they are expected to be introduced into evidence.
However, the obscene amount of money that has been spent thus far to prosecute Clemens-and the amount yet to be spent during his upcoming retrial-seems akin to taking a sledgehammer to a thumb tack. The government seems to think it has a never-ending budget to prosecute these type of cases-ones that generate more publicity than serve the interests of justice. Even jurors from the first trial questioned the amount of money this trial would cost. It also didn't help that federal prosecutors bungled the first trial, making a retrial necessary.
Add this to the years and the millions rung up prosecuting the case against former Major Leaguer Barry Bonds-which finally resulted in one guilty verdict of obstruction of justice and no jail time-and the money wasted investigating steroid allegations against seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, and it is logical to ask whether or not this is a good use of taxpayer money.
People should not be allowed to get away with lying to a legislative committee, and good arguments can be made for prosecuting Clemens. However, he already has lost the thing that matters most to him-his reputation.
Again, the Justice Department cannot ignore evidence that people may have lied to a congressional committee. However, taxpayers should be allowed to ask: does the cost of the prosecution fit the crime?