Monday, January 7, 2008

Clemens Files Defamation Suit

Today brought news that William Roger Clemens has filed a defamation lawsuit against Brian McNamee, the guy who fingered Clemens during the Mitchell Report investigation. You can find a copy of the complaint Clemens filed here. Not to be repetitive, but this is going to provide some fireworks.

One of the reasons why this will provide some fireworks is because among the elements that Clemens must prove in his suit is that McNamee told the Mitchell investigators things that McNamee knew to be false. So, Clemens must show be a preponderance of the evidence that he didn't use any steroids. Similarly, one way for McNamee to defend against Clemens' lawsuit is to show that Clemens did in fact take steroids.

Another reasons why this could get very, very interesting is that Clemens is going to have subpeona power to compel some people to testify about what they know. He'll also have the power to get records from all sorts of people regarding his alleged steroid use. The type of evidence that he could collect is as wide-ranging as the Mitchell Report itself. This could have the effect of either validating the Mitchell Report or showing it to be a fraud, an over-reaching attempt by baseball to show that it's trying to do something about performance enhancers. This is going to be fascinating if for no other reason than Clemens could (indirectly) go on his own witch hunt just to clear his name, if it can be cleared.


SayHey Kid said...

Judging by his appearance on 60 minutes, he looked as if he was going to bite Mike Wallace's head off. He was THAT angry about the report.

DC&H- If Clemens does manage to win this case, what would this mean for the Mitchell report? Does it become null and void? What would you see as the next step if there is a "Clemens is found innocent" headline??

For the record, I do hope he was clean.

Shane Rollins said...

From what I understand defamation isn't as tough to prove as perjury is, but in this case it's much of the same of a he said he said case. Clemens has no evidence (that we know of) to prove that he was clean, and McNamee already has evidence that what he said was true (A.Pet).

I think this is actually Clemens' only way to try to prove he is innocent since everyone always says why don't they sue if they're clean, he's trying exactly that. Clemens I believe is pissed because his ego wanted him to go down as the greatest pitcher ever and this jeopardizes it.

SayHey Kid said...

If anyone has ever seen or read about his offseason workout, then you know he is a resident badass. I somewhat agree with you Shane, but instead of his ego being damaged it would be the perception that his offseason regimate was a fake, when in fact, in his own mind, it was brutal and very real.

I wonder how McNamee plans on defending himself here? Other that eye witness reports; Since he allegedly juiced him in his own apartment.

Like DC&H said, this will get very ugly. Clemens may have to suit up for another year just to pay his legal team.

Dewey, Cheatem, & Howe said...

Sayhey - this wouldn't make the Mitchell Report null and void in any legal respect that I'm aware of, mostly because I don't think that the Report has any "teeth" to begin with. But what could happen is that Clemens makes the report look a lot less credible by uncovering evidence that refutes what McNamee had to say.

Because Clemens is a public figure (the following test would change for you or I because our privacy as private citizens is considered much more important to us), he'll need to show by a preponderance of the evidence that McNamee 1) published (basically spoke to at least one other person) 2) false statements 3) about Clemens 4) that McNamee knew were false and 5) with malice.

That's a lot for Clemens to prove. I don't know if, were I Clemens lawyer, I would advise him to file this suit unless I were absolutely convinced there was I way I could prove McNamee wrong. The key part of all this is that it does in fact hinge on whether McNamee was telling the truth. That's why I think that this is going to get real ugly real fast. Clemens, if he can't prove McNamee wrong, will attack McNamee's credibility in order to convince a jury McNamee is a bad dude. There are a lot of ways to do that, and if I were a ballplayer, I'd be scared right now. Who knows what could come out of this thing.

Dewey, Cheatem, & Howe said...

I agree with Shane on this one. This might be an ego thing: people've said there are only two ways for Clemens to prove his innocence. Lie detectors and a lawsuit. This is an ego trip, methinks.

Shane Rollins said...

Plus it's hard to attack his credibility on his testimony to the report since Andy P has already confirmed that what he said about his was truthful

SayHey Kid said...

I agreed with Shane on this, but I think there was a bit more at stake to him than ego.

DC&H- If Clemens were telling the truth (according to a jury that is) What legal implecations could McNamee see? Could others sue in a class action? What could happen to Mitchell himself?? Could he be sued for slander?? This is all very fasniting to me since there are so many avenues the fallout of this case could take. Clemens was asked on 60 minutes what he thought that McNamee had to gain by naming him. Clemens said no jail time. Could Mitchell offer that as reason to cooperate? I dont recall McNamee getting any plea deal from Congress or any other courtroom.

John Smolz said it best. Smoltz said if his name was run through the mud like Clemens in the report, he would use every available resourse and asset to redeem his good name, regardless of the final verdict. I dont think Clemens legal team could take Roger out of this one. And rightfuly so....

SayHey Kid said...

Andy P is a much different case though. However, What helps McNamee is that Petite confessed.

Dewey, Cheatem, & Howe said...

Sayhey - to the best of my knowledge, if McNamee were found guilty of defamation, the only thing he'd be on the hook for is damages to Clemens. As far as a class action goes, that wouldn't work. With a class action lawsuit, each person that fits within the class has the same problem with a company.

For example, in a trial where the question is whether Chemical X made by Company Y causes cancer, you can have a whole class of plaintiffs participate against Company Y because the answer will apply to each of their cases.

With McNamee, all this will prove is that McNamee lied about Clemens. You can certainly imagine a situation where a guy might have had great information about a dozen ballplayers and decided to make something up just because he didn't like unlucky number 13. So, this won't have any preclusive effect in subsequent trials.

Also, because the Mitchell report had no teeth, I don't think he faces and problems from lying to them. I'm not sure about any other investigations that were ongoing. Lying could have serious implications in those, but I just don't know enough about them.

SayHey Kid said...

Thanks DC&H. Seems if everything goes Clemens way nothing would happen to McNamee and Mitchell (regardless whether or not his report has teeth, its all about perception). Damages or no, Clemens, if he is found innocent, gets the crap end of the stick here.