Opening statements got underway on Wednesday in the Roger Clemens trial and the defense laid out their plans to portray Brian McNamee as a habitual liar who betrayed what Clemens viewed as a solid friendship. The opening statement provides an opportunity for an attorney to lay out his case to the jury, piece-by-piece. The opening statement is not evidence, but rather a road-map of what lies ahead.
While the opening statement is not evidence, attorneys can use it to generate certain buzz words in the minds of jurors. When subsequent evidence appears and those buzzwords pop up, they'll connect it back to what they heard in the opening statement. If an attorney plans to provide certain pieces of evidence and fails to do so, a juror can often think back to what they remember from the opening statement and question the decision not to include the evidence.
While the defense will also go after the legitimacy of the Congressional hearings, they will be looking primarily to paint Brian McNamee as a liar and more or less a degenerate. He pointed to evidence McNamee lied in an un-related previous police investigation. He also referred to him repeatedly as a drug dealer who government officials were willing to give a free pass in exchange for taking down Clemens. This is somewhat similar to Bonds' defense as investigator Jeff Novitzky has often been described by defense attorneys as overzealous in his investigation of PED usage.
During the prosecution's opening statement, AUSA Steven Durham pointed to physical evidence of Clemens' DNA appearing on needles and cotton balls. The defense contends that evidence could very well have been manufactured. Hardin's basic point throughout the opening statement was that this goes against the work ethic on which Clemens has built his career. He pointed to Clemens success before meeting McNamee and that since his high school days he has built himself up entirely on that work ethic.
The defense will base much of their case on trying to paint McNamee as untrustworthy. It will be interesting to see how they counter some of the independent evidence the government will attempt to provide. For example, we still don't know whether the other players who worked with McNamee will be allowed to testify about their own PED usage.
The judge initially was inclined to allow this testimony, but it will depend in part on whether the defense elects to claim McNamee was blackmailing Clemens for a job. That is pertinent because if other McNamee-trained athletes were using PEDs, McNamee could have simply blackmailed them if Clemens wasn't actually using like the defense claims. This could be strong independent evidence that would allow the jury to infer Clemens own involvement.