What, you thought this ended last year? Ha! Justice can move slowly in the criminal justice system, but it crawls like an injured sloth in the civil justice system. And that’s the system through which Roger Clemens’ former trainer — Brian McNamme — finds himself as he sues Clemens for defamation arising out of the events of early 2008.
You remember early 2008, don’t you? The Mitchell Report came out and Roger Clemens was accused as a user. Rather than shrug and have it be the end of things like it was for Andy Pettitte and others, Clemens launched a bizarre and ill-advised media campaign against his chief accuser, Brian McNamee, during which he called McNamee all manner of not nice things, with “liar” being the least of ’em. This was all occasioned by weird press conferences and appearances on “60 Minutes” and flawed power point presentations and taped phone calls and congressional testimony and, ultimately, a perjury trial which Clemens escaped without criminal conviction but without much of his reputation left intact.
Pettitte has been key to all of this, of course. Pettitte told McNamee that Clemens said he used HGH. McNamee told Congress and prosecutors that Pettitte said this. Then Pettitte walked into a criminal trial and created all of the reasonable doubt Clemens needed when he said he was only “50/50” as to whether Clemens ever admitted anything. I’m sure the government was pleased with all of that. Of course, he didn’t exactly change his testimony — everyone said he did but he didn’t. Whatever you think of that, though, his testimony made life kinda hard for everyone.
Despite all of this, lawyers are still willing to call him to take an oath about all of this. He could testify as early as next week. I’ll be curious to hear if he is any more sure of Clemens’ statements now than he was last year or five years ago.
No matter what happens here, I’m still trying to figure out how Brian McNamee proves damages out of all of this. Irrespective of who was telling the truth and who was lying (for the record I figure Clemens was lying and McNamee telling the truth), how does a person show reputation damages via defamation when the only reason anyone knows who he is is because he was listed in the Mitchell Report as one of the most famous purveyors of steroids in the country? A drug dealer who also wrote an article in the New York times lying his butt off about steroids. A lying, op-ed writing drug dealer who also was tied up in an alleged date-rate-drug sexual assault in a pool about which he later lied to police? How does that damages case even look?
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury; my client was once thought of as a lying, drug dealing perv. Then along came Roger Clemens, who told the whole world that my client had never given him drugs! He’s been ruined by this! Please, see to it that he compensated for the loss of his good name.”
In short: even if he proves the lie, how does he prove the reputation damages?