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Roger Clemens’ legal strategy: claim that Brian McNamee framed him

Apr 24, 2012, 12:30 PM EDT

Rusty Hardin

This may be something Clemens and his attorney, Rusty Hardin, floated some time ago. But the case, in one form or another, has been going on for over four years now, and I sort of lose track of these things.

In any event, during opening statements this morning, Hardin explained what his story is going to be about how Roger Clemens’ DNA got mixed up with all of those delicious steroids on the syringe that Brian McNamee kept in a used soda can for years:

Roger Clemens’ defense lawyer tells jurors that evidence purportedly showing the pitcher used steroids was manipulated by his former strength coach, Brian McNamee.

Rusty Hardin said in his opening statement Tuesday at Clemens’ perjury trial that evidence collected by McNamee was a “mixed up hodgepodge of garbage.”

Hardin says his team will contend that McNamee mixed steroids with Clemens’ DNA into a needle to frame the star pitcher. Hardin said that McNamee had used the needle to inject Clemens with vitamin B-12.

Hardin is playing defense, of course, so he doesn’t have to prove that McNamee doctored the evidence. He just has to introduce the possibility to jurors and have them believe that it is at least reasonable.  And given that McNamee has some pretty serious credibility problems, it shouldn’t be as hard to spin this tale with him as it might be with a different witness.

Still: one of the first things they teach you as a trial lawyer is that if you promise big in an opening statement, you had better deliver or else the jury won’t believe anything else you say.  So Hardin had better beat the living hell out of McNamee at trial, or else his opening statement is going to look like nothing but empty promises and baloney.

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