Roger Clemens vs. Brian McNamee: The case moves forward at a snail’s pace

On the day that Yankee pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, Roger Clemens reported to the courthouse in Brooklyn.

The former Bombers fireballer made a surprise appearance Friday in Brooklyn Federal Court during a status conference in the hard-fought, long-running defamation case filed against him by his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee.

Clemens made no comment as he left the courthouse wearing a University of Texas Longhorns windbreaker against 10-degree cold, telling a reporter who snapped his picture to “beat it.”

The case is set for trial on Oct. 26, but it is still possible that Clemens will settle with McNamee, perhaps with insurers paying millions to make McNamee drop the claim. (McNamee was not present in the courtroom; neither man was required to appear.)

“If you settle, fine, if you don’t settle, fine, I just want to get on to other matters,” said U.S. District Court Judge Sterling Johnson, who was clearly irritated with the slow pace of the litigation. “This is a very old case. It should have been resolved among the parties or it should have been tried.”

McNamee sued Clemens for defamation in 2009 after Clemens and his attorneys claimed that McNamee was “disturbed” and had manufactured evidence of steroid injections — bloody needles and gauze that McNamee said he had saved in a box in his basement after injecting Clemens with steroids in 2001.

The status conference came a day after Clemens’ attorneys agreed to a resolution of sanctions sought by McNamee’s attorneys, led by Richard Emery, for repeated delays in turning over contested correspondence between Clemens, his PR firm and his agents. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak had ruled that the discovery material was fair game and should be turned over to McNamee.

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Brian McNamee sued Roger Clemens for defamation in 2009.

Emery and Clemens’ attorney Chip Babcock told Judge Johnson Friday that they had reached agreement on several points of fact involving the case, and both agreed that a trial would take less than two weeks.

“Mr. Clemens has made it clear he won’t contribute a dime,” Emery told Johnson, referring to the possibility of an out-of-court settlement and the role an insurance company would play in a settlement.

Clemens has spent millions on his seven-year legal battle against charges that he used steroids during his long, illustrious career and his insurers may decide to cut their losses.

Babcock told the Daily News after Friday’s court appearance that two insurance policies, each for a half-million dollars, may determine whether there is a settlement.

“I’m repeating a message my client repeatedly stated to opposing counsel, which is, he will not pay a penny to Mr. McNamee,” Babcock said. “But if the insurance company wants to pay Mr. McNamee, there is not much I can do about that.”

Clemens has already been ordered to pay McNamee’s attorneys’ fees in the discovery dispute, although who is actually paying the fees has not been made public.

Roger Clemens pitches against the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series.
Roger Clemens pitches against the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series.

“I assume (the insurance company) is paying for his legal costs but I do not know for sure,” Emery said.

If Clemens’ insurance companies are exposed to further expense, they might prefer to settle than go to trial, effectively taking the decision of whether to proceed out of Clemens’ hands.

“He has taken the position that he won’t pay a dime,” Emery said, “but he will if there is a judgment against him. If the insurance company is exposed on a judgment they might find it better to settle.”

Clemens, 52, was acquitted of criminal charges in 2012 after a two-month trial on perjury and obstruction of Congress charges. He has denied that McNamee regularly injected him with human growth hormone and steroids, claiming that McNamee only injected him with Vitamin B-12 and lidocaine.

McNamee has been trapped in litigation since 2007, when federal agents cornered him with evidence of his drug distribution and forced him to cooperate with a probe of Major League Baseball’s doping problems.

In 2008, McNamee turned over the medical waste on which an FBI laboratory later found traces of steroids and of Clemens’ DNA. McNamee testified that he saved the evidence because a gut feeling told him that Clemens would turn on him if investigators ever came around.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/roger-clemens-trial-date-battle-brian-mcnamee-article-1.2123116

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