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Jose Canseco testifies before grand jury in Roger Clemens case

Jun 4, 2010, 10:08 AM EDT

Canseco testifying.jpgJose Canseco testified before the grand jury that is deciding whether to indict Roger Clemens on perjury charges yesterday. You could probably do better if you’re looking for someone to vouch for your character, but we take our witnesses where we can find them, and Canseco basically backed Clemens’ side of the story.

Canseco also had the line of the day when he said the whole thing was “ridiculous” and that “there’s got to be better ways to spend taxpayer money.”

Not that lying to Congress is no big deal as a general proposition — it is — but let’s remember: Canseco’s sole reason for being here is to testify about whether or not Roger Clemens was at a barbecue in 1998.  That is the level of the questioning of Clemens and Brian McNamee before Congress a couple of years ago.

Personally? I’d prefer it if my tax dollars were spent doing things others than trying to figure that sort of stuff out.

  1. Simon DelMonte - Jun 4, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    Since you are a lawyer, I have to ask this, and I am not asking to be a wag. Why is lying under oath, in any circumstance, a big deal? It strikes me that it’s the crime you catch people for when you cannot catch them for anything else. It feels like you somehow expect someone who has committed a crime to take an oath seriously when they don’t take the law of the land seriously. There is just something about the concept that seems petty.
    What am I missing? Is there some background to the concept I don’t have? Is there a link to something I should be reading, as to not burden this blog with legal talk instead what we come here to read? Thanks.

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Jun 4, 2010 at 10:42 AM

    It’s less about the need to keep the lawbreakers from honoring oaths — we actually expect them not to testify in most cases — it’s so that witnesses and others who otherwise don’t have a stake in the proceedings will tell the truth and take the tribunal seriously.
    Most cases, both civil and criminal, rely in the testimony of others in order to deprive someone of their life (death penalty cases) liberty (i.e. jail) or their property (i.e. money in a judgment). Those are the three rights that are the very basis of our nation (“pursuit of happiness” was a euphemism added by the founders; see Locke for the original construction). While I belittle this particular case, there’s no question that depriving people of thier essential rights as Americans can’t be taken lightly, and as such we must be absolutely sure that when we do so we do it with truthful testimony.
    OK, that was overly-dramatic. The point is that truthful testimony under penalty of law is pretty much an essential pillar of our democratic system.

  3. Old Gator - Jun 4, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    I’ve always been amused by the proposition that it’s a felony to lie to Congress when it’s business as usual for Congress to lie to us. Ah well.
    I recall a wonderful interview Dick Cavett once conducted with the late Hollywood Twelve victim, novelist and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Trumbo was indicted during the McCarthy witch hunting days for contempt of Congress, especially when he freely admitted that he was contemptuous of it, as it richly deserved to be held in contempt. I find that amusing too – if contempt for Congress is a felony, why aren’t we all in jail?

  4. trampslikeus - Jun 4, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    Dalton Trumbo. “Johnny Got His Gun.” Great book.

  5. Old Gator - Jun 4, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    It is indeed. You are aware that Trumbo also wrote the screenplay for Spartacus under a fake name because he’d been blackballed by the right wing slugs who were running and/or following along like a herd of decerebrated goats in Tailgunner Joe McCarthy’s pogrom, right? Incidentally, you might want to check out the film of the book – remarkably, it was done very well – probably because Trumbo wrote his own screenplay and had a degree of artistic control. Timothy Bottoms is in the lead role, with a great cameo by Donald Sutherland as Jesus. You finish watching it and you want to cry.

  6. Joey B - Jun 4, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    “Why is lying under oath, in any circumstance, a big deal?”
    I’d guess that, if the president of BP testified that the oil stopped leaking, we’d be less than happy to find out that it continues. If there wasn’t a prohibition against lying, then every case would revolve around someone bringing in 20 eye witnesses to swear that the defendent was in church with them at the time of the crime. If everyone is allowed to lie during their testimony, then there really isn’t much of a reason for them to testify in the first place.

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