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Roger Clemens trial: Can federal prosecutors nab a sports star at last?

Roger Clemens is facing his second trial on charges of lying to Congress, after the first was declared a mistrial. Federal prosecutors have had a rough ride trying to pin perjury on top athletes. 

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This artist rendering shows former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, standing, and his attorney Rusty Hardin, front left, facing prospective jurors inside federal court in Washington Monday.

Dana Verkouteren/AP

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As jury selection starts Monday in the second federal trial of former baseball star Roger Clemens, the prosecution is in need of a home run, it seems.

Last summer, a federal judge declared a mistrial in Clemens’s first go-round in the courts after prosecutors entered evidence the judge had banned.

Before that, the federal trial of Barry Bonds yielded a conviction on obstruction of justice but a mistrial on the three other, more substantial charges of lying to a grand jury about alleged drug use. The government also failed to bring charges against multiple Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong after a two-year investigation into alleged performance-enhancing drug use.

The government is trying to reverse the trend. The prosecution team has added three more lawyers – for a total of five – in their efforts to prove that Clemens committed perjury when he told a congressional committee in 2008 that he never took performance-enhancing drugs.

But perjury cases are “very difficult for the government” to win as most jurors fail to see why lying amounts to a federal offense, says Bill Mateja, a former US prosecutor based in Dallas

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