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Roger Clemens Verdict Is Not About Innocence, It's About Jury Nullification

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18:  Former all-star baseball pitcher Roger Clemens becomes emotional while talking to the news media after he was found not guilty on 13 counts of perjury and obstruction outside the Prettyman U.S. Court House June 18, 2012 in Washington, DC. The former Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees pitcher's original trial in 2011 was declared a mistrial after the judge said the prosecution presented inadmissible testimony that prejudiced the jury. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens is on trial for making false statements, perjury and obstructing Congress when he testified about steroid use during a February 2008 inquiry by the House Oversight and Government Affairs.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Lou RomContributor IJanuary 8, 2017

The Rocket launched another unbelievable shutout Monday, leaving federal prosecutors holding their bats in disbelief at the end of a costly, drawn-out perjury trial.

A day after the verdict, the consensus is that Clemens' acquittal doesn't mean he's innocent, but rather that the jury was unconvinced of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

That is certainly one possibility.

The other is that the jury went O.J. on prosecutors and ignored the evidence at hand. 

This is a case, if not an air-tight case, where jury nullification may have played a role for some jurors.

When Clemens walked out of a a federal courthouse acquitted on all six charges that he lied to Congress about his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs, I can't help but feel that yet another jury told the federal government that it's time to stop wasting time and taxpayer money policing a child's sport played by man-children.

While the evidence against Clemens might not have been Simpsonesque, this jury, I believe, sent a message to prosecutors, to Congress, to anyone who would listen.

That message? We have bigger fish to fry, more important problems to solve.

It's the same message that a Bay Area jury sent last April when it deadlocked on all but one count of lying to the government brought against Barry Bonds, MLB's career and single-season home run leader.

The Clemens jury may not have believed Brian McNamee, and they may not have believed the countless prosecution witnesses.

But maybe they also did not believe that they lost 10 weeks of their lives over a guy who is famous for throwing a a 5-oz. ball of string wrapped in cowhide for a living.

While our country continues to wage two wars, while unemployment continues to grow unchecked and while big banks and bigger investment firms continue to lie and cheat, the public's interest in whether or not middle-aged pro athletes cheat—if there ever was interest—has waned beyond recognition.

Let this be a lesson for Congress, a clarion call to adopt a bipartisan approach the next time they think about meddling in such irrelevant minutia — just say fugghetaboutit.

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