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Jack Clark challenges Albert Pujols to a lie detector test, doesn’t understand how the law works

Oct 14, 2013, 1:48 PM EDT

clark, pujols getty Getty Images

Albert Pujols sued former big leaguer Jack Clark a couple of weeks ago after the latter went on his radio show and accused the former of using PEDs. Jack Clark and his lawyers, rather than actually try to defend themselves via traditional means available to them in litigation, have decided to make a media circus out of it: he has challenged Pujols to dueling lie detector tests.

Setting aside the fact that polygraph tests are inadmissible and have no real value to the legal system and are wildly unreliable, this gambit is pretty dumb and disingenuous on its own merits. To see so, one need look no further than the way Clark’s lawyer frames the matter to be tested: he offers that the question to be asked Clark would be whether he was truthful when he said that Pujols’ trainer told him that Pujols had used PEDs.

Which is great except for the fact that that’s not even the real basis of the lawsuit.

Yes, Clark’s statements were that Pujols’ trainer told him that Pujols used PEDs. But the clear idea Clark was expressing is not that he was told something. It’s that what he was told was true. He was offering, through the thinnest possible cover of Pujols’ trainer, that Pujols did in fact take PEDs. Not that he was merely told it. Indeed, the actual legal claim by Pujols, by definition, covers not just knowingly telling reputation-harming lies, but spreading reputation-harming misinformation with reckless disregard for their truth. So he could very well have been told that by Pujols’ trainer. And it wouldn’t matter if (a) it was a lie; and (b) Clark was reckless in ascertaining whether or not it was true.

That bit of nonsense aside, it’s totally irrelevant. Polygraph exams have no bearing on litigation. This is a sideshow mounted in an effort by Clark’s camp to gain some sort of P.R. advantage. Nothing more.

  1. joshfrancis50 - Oct 14, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    • kwhyh8strm - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:53 PM

      Jack Clark,,, shaddup ur face!

    • kurtstallings - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:38 PM

      “Pistols at dawn!” — Alexander Hamilton, the evening of July 10, 1804.

      “Belly up the bar, boys, the ale’s on me!” — Aaron Burr, the evening of July 11, 1804.

  2. mybrunoblog - Oct 14, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    Pujols is wasting his time. He should be focused on one thing. Getting his body ready to play baseball. Idiots like Jack Clark are white noise that only idiots listen to. Pujols should be above that stuff.

    • daveitsgood - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:27 PM

      You realize that Pujols is not representing himself and spending countless hours researching tort cases for this, right? He has legal representation that is taking care of this and he can do whatever else he wants/needs to do and can show up for any legal proceedings as necessary.

  3. chip56 - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Craig your article paints you as either naive about your job or naive about the way the world works in general.

    Now, if my wife and I were splitting up because my wife said I left the toilet seat up and I said I didn’t and she wanted me to take a poly then it’s a waste of time by her lawyers. But Clark is taking a public figure and challenging him to something knowing full well that it will lead to members of the media (not you) to turn to Albert and say “yeah, take the poly.” And he will continue to issue this challenge for as long as the suit goes on.

    Given what Albert stands to gain from the lawsuit and what a polygraph may (or may not) reveal, it’s in Albert’s best interests to stop giving Jack Clark a platform, withdraw his complaint and let the whole thing die on the vine like he should have done from the beginning.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:20 PM

      I don’t disagree about Pujols’ best course of action. I wrote a post about that a month or two ago, saying he shouldn’t sue for that very reason.

      But that doesn’t change the fact that a polygraph here is silly in general and the way Clark’s lawyer couched it all is silly in particular.

      • chip56 - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        It’s only silly if you think he’s using it to win the case rather than as leverage to try to get Pujols to drop the case. If it’s the latter then it’s a smart shot across the bow of the Pujols camp to let them know what’s coming if they decide to proceed.

  4. temporarilyexiled - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    Is it the offseason already? : )

  5. jrobitaille23 - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    Craig..how is possible for you to have been a lawyer but completely wrong so many times when commenting about the law? I mean, seriously just stop. You are so busy injecting your bias into any discussion that your views lose any objectivity and that’s the exact opposite of what the practice of law is. Just wow.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      Please explain. Polygraphs aren’t admissible in Missouri. Reckless disregard for truth is part of the defamation standard. Or are you just trolling?

      • energizedconservative - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:28 PM

        They are not in court yet. The settlement offer is intended for the court of public opinion, where polygraphs are admissible.

      • klbader - Oct 14, 2013 at 4:05 PM

        It seems to me that if Jack Clark was telling the truth that Pujols’ former trainer did, in fact, tell Clark that Pujols was using PEDs, then arguably, Clark wasn’t speaking with reckless disregard for the truth. Clark, in his role as a talk show host, is a media defendant, and media defendants get pretty wide latitude when it comes to defamation claims. This would be an entirely different case if Clark didn’t have a source for his allegation, but the fact that he did have one (if he is telling the truth about the trainer) makes it difficult for a court to find reckless disregard for the truth.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 14, 2013 at 4:27 PM

        They are not in court yet. The settlement offer is intended for the court of public opinion, where polygraphs are admissible.

        I rock-paper-scissor’d my brother for the last piece of pecan pie 20 years ago at thanksgiving. That doesn’t make it a valid way to determine one’s innocence/guilt in a court of law.

      • energizedconservative - Oct 14, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        “I rock-paper-scissor’d my brother for the last piece of pecan pie 20 years ago at thanksgiving. That doesn’t make it a valid way to determine one’s innocence/guilt in a court of law.”

        They are not in a court of law. Yet.

    • babyfarkmcgeezax - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:49 PM

      Don’t be too surprised by it – after all, Craig was a lawyer in the same sense that Shirley Phelps-Roper is a lawyer.

    • clydeserra - Oct 14, 2013 at 7:44 PM

      I am confused about what he is wrong about here. PLease explain.

      then explain what he has been so wrong about in the past. I can’t think of anything. (sure the Bond’s appeal went a different way than he said, but I still think he was right and the 9th circ. was wrong.)

  6. drewzducks - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    I don’t think Clark understands how his brain works.

    • paperlions - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:33 PM

      In fairness, no one really knows how the brain works yet. Recent work has started to unravel a few mysteries, but “how it works” (i.e. how it does what it does) is not actually a bit of knowledge the human race possesses.

    • bfunk1978 - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:51 PM

      I don’t think Clark’s brain works.

  7. jarathen - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Next: Jack Clark challenges Albert Pujols to “rasslin” in his backyard.

    • historiophiliac - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:39 PM

      I secretly might enjoy that a little.

      • paperlions - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:34 PM

        I would enjoy in non-secretly.

  8. jm91rs - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Honestly I forgot all about this. Pujols should have issued a statement saying “Jack Clark’s a fool. His mediocre baseball career doesn’t compare to mine and that’s all I have to say about it. I did not cheat and I don’t know why he feels the need to use my name to make himself relevant again”

    All of this would have been a distant memory had that happened, instead it will be brought up for the next year or two. I do think maybe Albert wouldn’t mind draining some funds from Jack Clark by making him defend himself in court. God knows Albert won’t ever need the money.

    • paperlions - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:35 PM

      Yeah, that is what he should have done….but as we saw in his contract negotiations with the Cardinals, Pujols takes himself VERY seriously. He was offended by things that no one else would be offended by….he has very thin skin and he can’t let anything he perceives as a slight go.

      • missingdiz - Oct 14, 2013 at 5:20 PM

        Pujols may be thin-skinned, that’s one way to look at it. Or he may have an old-school sense of honor. One’s reputation used to mean something. Now people are so confused, they think notoriety is a good thing.

        By all accounts, Pujols is a family man. He must care about what his children hear about him, how they see him. I think that mattered with McGwire and Bonds too (and they were guilty, whereas I don’t think Pujols is).

        One other thing, if “reckless disregard for the truth” is a crime, why is Faux News still in business?

  9. chip56 - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    It’s a great example of why, when fans and the media say “this guy should sue if he’s being wrongly accused of using PEDs,” players don’t sue.

    There’s very little upside for Pujols in this, he gives Clark a spotlight and when he declines to do things like take a polygraph the “What is Albert Pujols Hiding” articles will start.

    • chadjones27 - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      But (if Pujol’s wins the defamation lawsuit) it also gives players who are falsely accused a precedent. And hopefully, idiots in the media won’t start making PED use claims unless, and until, they have evidence of it greater than he said/ she said. Sure, it’ll cost Pujol’s money and maybe slightly tarnish his image in the short-term, but hopefully it’ll be worth it in the end.
      Because, really, “submit to a polygraph” will only keep Clark in the spotlight till he has to fork over an undisclosed amount of money then this issue will go away. I know people are morons, but I can’t see many people taking Clark’s side here.

      “Heard it from a friend who
      Heard it from a friend who
      Heard it from another you’ve been messin’ around”

      • dexterismyhero - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:13 PM

        Please, no REO references from their ballad era!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Reflex - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:24 PM

      The real secret is that Pujols is a Kenyan born, Indonesian educated Muslim who snuck across the border and is being paid under the table as an illegal immigrant. And he will do ANYTHING to protect that secret, including palling around with Glen Beck at rallies.

      • Reflex - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:25 PM

        That was for greenmtnboy, no idea why it posted here…

  10. greenmtnboy31 - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    I’m simply curious what it is that Albert Pujols is hiding. If it’s nonsense, then he wastes a lot of time instead of just laughing it off. If it’s true, then this would be the expected reaction from Pujols. Me thinks he’s a fraud.

    • happytwinsfan - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:53 PM

      chip56 rests his case

      • chip56 - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:37 PM

        yup

  11. billybawl - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    Clark is an idiot, but I think the threshold for Pujols — as a public figure — is extremely high. He’d have to prove that Clark was deliberately lying in an effort to damage Pujols and not just recklessly speculating or passing along what he heard from a supposed trainer.

    So if the case gets tossed out, how does that look for Pujols? He should have called Clark a fool and moved on.

  12. ch0psuey - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    Ugh, lawyer crap. I say they both set a place and a time and play some fisticuffs. Last person standing is the teller of the truth.

  13. metalhead65 - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    who cares if they are inadmissible in court,you either lied or you didn’t. if someone accused me of something I did not do I would have no problem taking one. if I am innocent why would I be nervous about taking it? Pujols needs to take one one without being asked and then show the results unless he has something to hide.

    • cohnjusack - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:48 PM

      You know a lie detector isn’t admissible in court? Because it has basically been thoroughly debunked as even a remotely reliable way to tell if someone is lying or not. The NAS did a study and found that is was roughly 85% effective. And note: this was with the impartial NAS. Results of a polygraph have to be interpreted by the tester and can therefore be subject to his or her own bias.

      So, if you’re Albert Pujols, would you be willing to take a test that, under the best case scenario, has a 15% chance of saying that you’re lying when you are actually telling the truth?

    • forsch31 - Oct 14, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      cohn is correct….because of the way the tests are geared between control questions and actual questions, you could be telling the truth, but the test could be saying you’re lying, or come up as “inconclusive”, which doesn’t do you any favors either. Anyone who can remain calm during a test can pass it, and anyone who is high-strung or easily offended (like Pujols can be, which is why we’re at this point) is pretty much screwed.

      See: http://www.apa.org/research/action/polygraph.aspx

    • clydeserra - Oct 14, 2013 at 7:47 PM

      so you are ok with treating something unreliable as truth? If you did nothing wrong and the polygraph says “inconclusive” or that you are lying, then are you OK with the result?

      It can happen because polygraphs are unreliable.

  14. thebadguyswon - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Come on. This isn’t even worthy of a story.

  15. braddavery - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    I don’t get this post, Craig. Clearly Clark and his lawyer/lawyers are not planning on using a polygraph test as eventual evidence in court. They are simply using the challenge as a challenge and it has nothing to do with trial evidence or the trial. It IS a circus sideshow, but to frame it as them trying to ‘win the case with a polygraph test’ is completely bogus and disingenuine. They are basically trying to get Pujols to balk at a polygraph test so they can say ‘See, public, he won’t even put himself in a situation where his alleged cheating can be exposed’, not to use it as evidence in a trial.

  16. righthandofjustice - Oct 14, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Jack Clark may not understand how law works but I bet his lawyer does. It is a PR Stunt but it is the same trick MLB tried to pull on A-Rod. Pujols doesn’t have to and certainly should not fall for it if he has half a brain.

    The funny thing is when Manfred tried to trick A-Rod’s lawyer into signing a “letter” in a public interview to release his information the (cough, cough, pardon me) “public opinion” was “what a great idea by MLB! A-Rod didn’t sign it that meant he was guilty!!!”. I want to know how come the (cough, cough, ahem, pardon me again…) “public opinion” has suddenly changed to “Jack Clark is a fool! He doesn’t understand how law works!” when Clark basically is trying to do the same thing Manfred did.

  17. hughmulcahy - Oct 14, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    “he could very well have been told that by Pujols’ trainer. And it wouldn’t matter if (a) it was a lie; and (b) Clark was reckless in ascertaining whether or not it was true.”

    The polygraph challenge is bad theater and isn’t worth publicizing but, this concluding comment is a bit off. It would “matter” if Pujols’ trainer told him this. In fact, it may be sufficient to defeat Pujols’ claim. If a person with first-hand knowledge of a subject tells a member of the media that something happened, and that “something” is believable given the circumstances, is there an obligation to investigate whether the trainer is lying? Do you need a corroborating source or documentation? Is that reckless disregard for the truth? Not likely. Rather, “if” the trainer told this lie, Pujols should be suing him as Clark is likely shielded from liability under NYT v. Sullivan.

  18. face21000x - Oct 14, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    Clark might be an idiot but he is probably right. Pujols came down real fast as did Todd Helton and Luis Gonzalez.

    • cohnjusack - Oct 14, 2013 at 5:20 PM

      He did come down fast, didn’t he?

      What about this guy? Averaged an OPS+ of 151 four years, running…then it suddenly went to 123 to 110 to 94! Ernie Banks must have down roids to.

      Or Jimmie Foxx! Hits 12 straight 30 home run seasons, then hits 19 and doesn’t top double digits again? Steroids!

      Gary Carter, a constant 30 home run threat…suddenly can’t hit over .240 and and tops out at 11 home runs? Steroids!

      In summary, most players decline in their early 30s, and decline very, very quickly.

  19. djpostl - Oct 14, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    “Jack Clark challenges Albert Pujols to a lie detector test, doesn’t understand how the law works

    And Craig doesn’t seem to understand that when it comes to the court of public opinion, nobody gives two shits how the broke dick juducial system works.

  20. DJ MC - Oct 14, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    The point that many are making, about how this isn’t a tactic for court, but for the court of public opinion, is irrelevant.

    You don’t file a lawsuit like this simply to get an annoying, brainless ex-jock to apologize and retract, in which case a counter-move like this might be worthwhile. No, you file a lawsuit like this to receive damages in a case where you are legitimately injured. Because of Jack Clark’s prominence as a former star player and member of the media, repeating a rumor as truth from a shaky source injures Pujols’ reputation.

    So Clark can make all of the PR stunts he wishes. He should just hope his lawyers don’t charge extra for those efforts, as he’s probably going to need all of the money he can get when this does go to trial.

  21. suchaputz - Oct 14, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    On occasion when steroids are in sports news, Max Kellerman on ESPN air, will straight up say that Jose Bautista used steroids. Only does it with this player I believe, and he says on-air ” that’s right i’m saying it, Bautista juiced.” He gives a couple reasons usually, not sure if that’s relevant here, but I was curious why he appears to have a green light by Disney lawyers to matter-of-factly say it?

  22. barrister90210 - Oct 14, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    As any attorney can tell you, a complete defense to a defamation suit is truth. Therefore the defendant will have great latitude, within reason, to seek information which shows he (Jack Clark in this instance) is telling the truth. Does Albert rally want to allow Clark’s Attorney to see his lifetime medical records, pharmacy records, employment files etc. all to try and clear his name? It’s a question that every client needs to ask themselves. My advice would have been to let it die and maybe send a cease and desist letter to Clark. A waste of money and resources for all involved.

  23. randomjoeblow - Oct 14, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    It’s pretty clear that Pujols used PEDs..

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