After a grand jury in Washington indicted Roger Clemens last week with lying to Congress about taking steroids, the decorated former pitcher swiftly took to Twitter to refute the allegations.
Clemens denied taking steroids. He denied lying to Congress. He said he looks forward to challenging the government’s case.
All the chatter didn’t sit well with the federal judge in Washington who picked up the case. Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a stern directive Monday evening to Clemens, the lawyers in the case and the potential witnesses: keep quiet.
Walton said the “extensive media coverage” was fueled at least in part by comments made by Clemens, his counsel and individuals who presumably will be witnesses.
Walton, a federal trial judge in Washington since October 2001, said in a two-page order Monday he “fully expects that all interested participants” — including Clemens, all the lawyers and any potential witnesses — will “refrain from making any further statements about this case to the media or in public settings outside the courtroom.”
A violation of the judge’s admonition “will be confronted with the full authority of the Court,” Walton said.
Walton said it is “hardly surprising (yet unfortunate) in the current litigation environment” for the parties and their attorneys to speak to the press. He said he will not “tolerate such behavior from anyone over which [he] can exercise authority.” The judge said extrajudicial comments could make it difficult to empanel an impartial jury and to maintain the jury’s impartiality throughout the trial.
A lawyer for Clemens, Rusty Hardin of Houston, was not immediately reached for comment Monday evening about whether he plans to challenge Walton’s order. Another lawyer for Clemens, Michael Attanasio, a Cooley Godward Kronish partner in San Diego, also was not immediately reached Monday. Attanasio chairs the firm’s litigation practice in San Diego.
Steve Durham, chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, a lead prosecutor assigned the case, was not immediately reached for comment.
Mike Scarcella can be contacted at email@example.com.