When Roger Clemens was found not guilty yesterday on charges of perjury, the immediate reaction by most sports fans and talking heads went something like this (Paraphrased from a number of different sources)…The U.S. Government just wasted two years on a trial that nobody cared about and they still lost. Think of all the better things the government could have spent several million dollars on.
But the point most are missing is that this trial was never about steroids. And to a lesser extent, this trial wasn’t even really about punishing Clemens.
Like the Martha Stewart case, this trial was about lying and how the government wants to make sure people are telling the truth under oath to congress or their investigators. And while the government wanted to punish Clemens and Stewart, the high-profile nature of these cases were an opportunity for the federal government to send messages to others in the future, that lying will be dealt with.
So, while this particular case cost an estimated $2-3 million, the feeling is that it will save the government millions more in the future if there are fewer perjury cases to prosecute.
And yes, Clemens “got off.” But he wasn’t acquitted without paying a price. In addition to the amount of time Clemens devoted to defending himself, there was also the cost of his defence, which was certainly not cheap.
So in a way, the federal prosecutors still won even though Clemens was acquitted. The message was delivered. They will prosecute. And even if you get off, it is going to cost you dearly.
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