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Judge grants Clemens' access to parts of MLB probe on steroid use

By Paul Courson, CNN
  • Roger Clemens' lawyers can use parts of an MLB-commissioned probe
  • Judge Reggie Walton rules part of the DLA Piper investigation can be deemed "facts"
  • A focus was the law firm's interview with a trainer, who'd accused Clemens of steroid use
  • Jury selection in Clemens' trial, for allegedly lying to Congress, starts July 6

Washington (CNN) -- Less than two weeks before the start in his criminal trial, baseball legend Roger Clemens scored a victory Thursday when his lawyers were granted access to evidence related to the illicit use of steroids by fellow players.

Clemens, fighting a six-count indictment for allegedly misleading members of Congress over use of performance-enhancing drugs, will be able to review and possibly use in his legal defense selected notes and other documents produced by a law firm that represented a panel commissioned by Major League Baseball.

The law firm, DLA Piper, had fought the defense move, asserting the documents were a protected part of the legal process.

But U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton disagreed, ruling Thursday that substantial portions of those notes can be considered as "facts" in the case. That includes statements made to the law firm by Brian McNamee, a longtime personal trainer for Clemens who is now at the center of the prosecution's case.

Walton issued his ruling after reviewing the DLA Piper's probe documents, which had been subpoenaed by the retired pitcher's defense team.

In his ruling Thursday, the judge wrote that the interview notes and memos from DLA Piper "are not entitled to protection as 'opinion,'" as the law firm had claimed. Rather, Walton contended that the documents are "an accurate reflection of the witnesses' statements, not the attorneys' mental impressions of what the witnesses had stated."

The judge continued that Clemens "has demonstrated a 'substantial need' for those portions of the materials," adding that he wouldn't get access to them otherwise "without undue hardship."

Walton earlier rejected a defense demand that a congressional panel submit internal notes and other materials that its staff had compiled ahead of the 2008 hearing, at which Clemens is accused of lying to U.S. House lawmakers.

In his latest ruling, the judge did not allow the pitcher's defense team access to all documents related to DLA Piper's probe. But Walton said that he might reconsider if the direction of the trial suggests the jury should consider the materials.

A member of the law firm, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, was commissioned by Major League Baseball to lead the investigation into the prevalence of performance-enhancing drugs.

The resulting Mitchell Report, which released in late 2007, featured accounts by McNamee that implicated the 7-time Cy Young Award winner and other players.

The House panel, in turn, used much of the Mitchell Report to question Clemens and McNamee at a hearing in early 2008. Lawmakers then asked the Justice Department to investigate the discrepancies between the two men's testimony.

Last August, Clemens was charged with one count of obstruction of justice, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury. Jury selection in his trial on these counts is scheduled to start July 6.