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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. 

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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