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Clemens' defense team challenges indictment; trial set for July

By Paul Courson, CNN
Roger Clemens, leaving a Washington court in December, is accused of lying at a congressional hearing and in a deposition.
Roger Clemens, leaving a Washington court in December, is accused of lying at a congressional hearing and in a deposition.
  • Roger Clemens' attorneys push to have the charges against him dismissed
  • The defense says the indictment is written "ambiguously"
  • A jury trial is scheduled for July 6

Washington (CNN) -- Attorneys for baseball great Roger Clemens are pressing their challenge to the indictment against him, once again calling it an improper "kitchen sink" of allegations stemming from an investigation into illicit steroid use.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton set a trial date of July 6 and will rule before then on the defense's motion to dismiss the indictment. Clemens is charged with one count of obstruction of justice, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury in the indictment, handed up by a grand jury in August.

Prosecutors have said the indictment correctly groups activity they believe will show Clemens lied to Congress during a probe of performance-enhancing drugs among baseball players.

In court papers filed recently, attorneys for Clemens again requested the indictment be dismissed and lay out why they believe it's written "so ambiguously that it is not possible to mount a proper defense."

The defense told the judge prosecutors did not refute "that 10 of the 15 statements predicating count one are described so vaguely that it is not possible to determine which specific question(s) and answer(s) are charged."

Responding to the initial move to dismiss, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham wrote that all of Clemens' "false and misleading statements alleged in count one were made to a single Congressional committee on two occasions, eight days apart." Durham said, as such, "those acts can be characterized as part of a single, continuing scheme" and that the indictment is on solid ground.

The next hearing in Clemens' case is scheduled for March 14. The judge has allowed him to remain free, suggesting during his arraignment that the athlete is so well-known it would be easy to find him.

Clemens, a seven-time winner of baseball's coveted Cy Young Award and the ninth-winningest pitcher in the sport's history, was swept up in an independent probe of steroid use conducted in late 2007 by former Sen. George Mitchell. The findings of what became known as the Mitchell Report were the focus of a hearing in February 2008 by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Clemens is accused of lying during that hearing and during a related deposition he provided to lawmakers that he never used human growth hormone or steroids.

His testimony put him at odds with that of his former trainer, Brian McNamee, and with the Mitchell Report, which stated Clemens had used banned substances at points in his career.

Pitcher Andy Pettite, who was a teammate of Clemens' on both the New York Yankees and Houston Astros, had told baseball's investigation that Clemens admitted using human growth hormone.

A few weeks after the public hearing, the congressional committee's leaders asked the Justice Department to launch a perjury probe of Clemens.