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  Rusty Hardin Speaks 

By John Granato & Sean Pendergast

 

John Granato: Rusty, this was a huge national victory for you. What do you think [the Roger Clemens acquittal] means for you and your career? For you and for Roger?

 

Rusty: Well, I would rather look at it as a victory for Roger and the team that I had with me. The irony of it is that Roger spent 24 years working with teams and thinking of team-play and he was very comfortable with what happened here. I have a group of lawyers from my firm and Mike Attanasio from San Diego that were unbelievably good. I don’t really take much credit for it, I was just the person out front. What really happened though, was over that two month period, we saw Roger under the worse kind of pressure in the world which was, if he lost, he was going to the penitentiary. The guy never, ever blinked...he was incredibly supportive of everything. I could do a commercial for Roger after all this.


Sean Pendergast: Was there a point along the way where, as Roger's attorney, you were concerned that you weren't going to get the verdict that you wanted?


Rusty: No. The funny thing is, I was concerned in reverse. I've done this for37 years and I've never had a case where I’ve felt as good at each stage. Part of the problem was is that we didn't [present] our case until the seventh week and that's when people started noticing a turn. One of the misconceptions publicly was regarding the jury. The jury was actually an incredible jury but there was this public perception that they were sleeping and not paying attention. In reality, they were one of the two most attentive groups I have seen in any trial I've ever had. They asked incredible questions. They came into it on a clean slate. Nine of them had never even heard of Roger Clemens. None of them were baseball fans and they came into it with an open mind. We always said if we got twelve people with an open mind, they would reach a unanimous conclusion that Roger didn't do this.


John: After the first mistrial, were you amazed that the government tried to prosecute Roger again?


Rusty: Yes, I was. I thought the mistrial last year gave them the perfect excuse to walk away, and we thought naively that maybe they would. Instead they just doubled down, added three more people to their team, and went after it again. Part of the problem is they never really carefully vetted Brian McNamee (the key witness), and they always misunderstood Andy Pettitte. Andy was never sure that he heard Roger [correctly] back in '99 (conversation regarding use of HGH), and when Andy gave his deposition...he told them that. Then the congressional [committee] got Andy to turn around and say he was more certain than he really was. The public was surprised by Andy but we weren't surprised.
Since the trial, we talked to four of the jurors. They've become paranoid. What they said to us was "one reason we don't want to talk to the media is that we don't want to be targeted by the government. None of them want to call attention to themselves.


Sean: The perception from the outside is that the relationship with Roger and Andy is in tatters, and this has been really hard on both guys. From someone who's been around Roger, is that an accurate perception just from your observation?

Rusty: No. Here's the interesting thing: one of the many things I love about Roger Clemens now is, not only does he not hold grudges, but in four and half years, in the most private of conversations, he has never said anything bad about Andy to any of us. In spite of the way it looks, in spite of the perception, he said before congress, and he would tell you now, Andy and he were friends before this happened, they were friends during it, and they'll be friends after it. Their relationship is not in tatters, it’s just been put on the shelf. They’ve had no contact with each other since the congressional hearing, or since really before the congressional hearing, and I hope now they will (remain friends).
Andy got on the stand and told the truth as he believed it, we always knew that's what he would do, and that's why we never said anything bad about Andy.


John: Obviously you represent Roger Clemens, but you honestly believe he did not do steroids. There are those that say, though, he might have won this trial, but in the court of public opinion he is still guilty. What do you tell those people?


Rusty: I just wish they would not have formed judgments when they haven't heard evidence, seen the witnesses, and listened and talked to Roger. I understand that's the way it’s going to be and Roger always has. Roger said before congress, no matter what happenedn he didn't think he'd get his reputation back. We probably hotboxed this guy more than anyone we've represented because clearly, if he had done it, ending it was the right way to go; admit it and move on. I bet you we had 25-30 conversation that first 6 months, using different forms of asking “Roger did you do this? Just tell us, we can deal with it. We'll admit to the public and that's it.” Not only did he deny it, but his stories, explanations, and facts never, ever changed. I'm more convinced than anything I can think of that he did not do it. Now, are we going to be able to persuade the public? No. Having said that, one of the things about Roger that made him such a great pitcher, is he's so incredibly positive, and he's going to move forward. He's going to continue to raise his boys with Debbie, be as active with them as he can, and do a lot of the charity of stuff he's been doing all of his career. At the end of the day, Roger Clemens, not only was not guilty, but had the courage to stand up and say "I didn't do it" when it would have been much easier to just stay silent.


Catch John Granato & Sean Pendergast every weekday morning from 7:00am to 11:00am on 1560 The Game.