After eight weeks, 46 witnesses, two dozing jurors and an estimated $2 million-$3 million spent in taxpayer money, the Roger Clemens trial has finally come to a close.
The verdict: Not guilty on three counts of making false statements, not guilty on two counts of perjury and not guilty on one count of obstruction. The charges stemmed from testimony that Clemens made in February 2008, telling a Congressional committee that he had never taken steroids or HGH. Prosecutors also alleged that Clemens intentionally made false statements that misled investigators.
Clemens faced a maximum sentence of 30 years and a $1.5 million fine if he had been convicted on all six counts, but he instead made out better than Barry Bonds. The all-time career home runs leader was hit with one charge of obstruction — but sentenced to no jail time — in his own perjury case.
Both Clemens and Bonds will hit the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this winter and it's likely that neither will walk away happy with the results. Whether you agree with their stance or not, Cooperstown's voters carry a much lower burden of proof when it comes to the evidence that both used performance-enhancing drugs during their careers.
But like Bonds, Clemens benefited from the reasonable-doubt standard that's applied in a federal courtroom. Despite staging an exhaustive trial, federal prosecutors were unable to build a convincing case. Nor were they able to defeat the doubts that the defense raised about the motives and integrity of former Clemens trainer Brian McNamee.
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So that's that. While we'll argue forever about the merits of the nation's lawmakers getting involved with baseball's steroid era, Clemens has escaped the legal process with no major damage except for a sizable lawyer bill. He'll face much more public scrutiny going forward, of course, but this trial was really never going to have any impact on the court of public opinion. Your view of Clemens before this verdict is probably the same as your view now.
UPDATE: The U.S Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia has released the following statement:
"The jury has spoken in this matter and we thank them for their service. We respect the judicial process and the jury's verdict. The U.S. Attorney's Office also wishes to thank the investigators and prosecutors, who pursued this case with tremendous dedication and professionalism after its referral to us from Congress."
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