In what seemingly still seems like a losing situation for Roger Clemens’ growing legal problems, a federal judge earlier this week allowed some of Brian McNamee’s defamation claims against the former star to proceed to trial, while also throwing out some accusations of malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The judge dismissed McNamee’s defamation claims based on statements that McNamee had a mental disorder and that McNamee was extorting Clemens during the suit, saying the statements “are rhetorical hyperbole and thus non-actionable.” The emotional distress element was also dismissed because McNamee “fails to allege the extreme and outrageous conduct necessary to support such a claim.”
Both sides seem to be happy about the judge’s decision, but the true problem is that Clemens faces more real legal troubles in the months ahead. In what has become a public nightmare, Clemens’ legal team might view this as a much-needed win. It may seem to some that this is a desperate move by Clemens’ legal team to gain momentum towards trial, but it appears rather futile that it will help. The civil suit from McNamee against Clemens is not going to commence until the criminal trial against Clemens for perjury trials ends.
The true test for Clemens against McNamee lies in his perjury trial. If Clemens can succeed against the government, he most likely will have a better chance against McNamee. However, the stain on Clemens life is most likely irreparable. As evidenced by Clemens’ statement to the Associated Press that the allegations have made him more determined to keep his life private and turn down public appearances. Nevertheless, Clemens still asserts that he is extremely busy, which seems doubtful since he has been out of the public eye for months, if not almost a year.
Joe Roden, one of Clemens’ lawyers, explains why the judge’s decision has their legal team smiling: “McNamee’s primary defamation claim that remains is illogical and lacks merit. It asserts that McNamee’s reputation was harmed by Clemens’s denials that McNamee injected him with steroids and HGH. A person’s reputation is not harmed by a denial that he was a source of illegal drugs.” While this seems extremely logical, it does not seem to be the true heart of McNamee’s defamation claim. McNamee’s defamation claim seems rather personal; a vendetta against Clemens to end a long public battle of “he said, he said.” As evidenced by the judge allowing the claim to proceed, there must be some merit in the accusations against Clemens. However, what seems more likely at this point is that Clemens’ major hurdle and problem is the federal perjury charges, and while his attention is needed other places, this seemingly mild win should not distract the upcoming legal battle.