Brian McNamee, one of the Government’s most powerful and potentially damaging witnesses, finally appeared in Court the last few days and delivered crucial testimony for prosecutors. By testifying, McNamee provided powerful evidence for the Government and set the stage for a rough cross-examination by the defendant’s attorneys which will occur over the next few days.
McNamee was calm and collected when he described how he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone (HGH). He explained how Clemens was fully aware of the substances he was being injected with, the drug use was no accident. Importantly, McNamee shed light on his relationship with Clemens, describing a series of encounters where he injected both the ballplayer and his wife, Debbie. He portrayed Clemens as aggressive and angry, discussing an email from Clemens threatening to go after anyone who ever told on him. McNamee further depicted Clemens as a drug addict in need of his next fix, hounding him constantly for additional injections.
McNamee also tried to get out in front of some damaging moments, such as his decision to store used needles and gauze from Clemens’ injections. He made clear that he only did so after a suggestion from him wife that doing so might provide him protection in the future.
McNamee is a critical witness for the Government, the only person to testify with firsthand knowledge of what Clemens injected into himself. His testimony became even more critical after the rough cross-examination last week of Andy Pettitte. Pettitte essentially backtracked on many of the most damaging statements made during his direct examination, conceding that he may have misheard conversations with Clemens regarding steroid use. McNamee then, becomes the Government’s case.
McNamee better be prepared for the cross-examination that is to come. The defense will work hard to discredit McNamee and undermine his testimony. They will surely attempt to have the jury question McNamee’s recollection of events and they’ll trot out the bizarre decision to keep the syringes used by Clemens. Clemens’ attorneys will dissect McNamee’s earlier testimony for any signs of contradiction and seize on any that appear. The defense has been successful in doing the same to Andy Pettitte, getting him to admit to uncertainty about what Clemens told him about possible drug use more than a decade ago, thus limiting the force of his testimony.
McNamee also has to be prepared for discussion of the deal he made with law enforcement in 2006. The agreement meant that McNamee would avoid prosecution if he cooperated in revealing what he knew about steroid use in Major League Baseball. Clemens’ attorneys will likely imply that McNamee was under pressure from authorities to nail important players like Clemens, even if it meant stretching the truth to do so.
Finally, Clemens’ attorneys will go after McNamee’s judgment. The judge in the case has already agreed to allows the defense to highlight McNamee’s two previous convictions for driving under the influence as well as the fact that he was the target of a “serious criminal investigation.” The jurors will not be permitted to hear that the incident involved an investigation into an alleged sexual assault of a woman found to have the date-rape drug in her system. The defense hopes that the damaging information will cause the jury to doubt McNamee’s truthfulness. Prosecutors hope the jury believes it’s irrelevant to the basic question of whether Clemens lied about steroid use.
If McNamee holds firm during cross-examination, the defense may have no choice but to call Clemens to the stand and use him to knock down McNamee’s account of events. Doing so carries all kinds of potential risk for Clemens but may be unavoidable. McNamee’s testimony on cross-examination could thus serve as the trial’s pivotal moment.
Read: “Crucial and contentious cross of McNamee vital in Clemens trial,” by Michael McCann, published at ESPN.com.
(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 266-0605.)