United States District Judge Reggie Walton has decided to shut down Roger Clemens' inner Blagojevich. As you may know, the seven time Cy Young Award winning pitcher was indicted last Thursday for perjury and obstruction of justice related to his testimony before Congress in February 2008 denying the use of performance enhancing drugs. Shortly after the charges were announced, Clemens posted the following statement on Twitter:
I never took HGH or Steroids. And I did not lie to Congress. I look forward to challenging the Governments accusations, and hope people will keep an open mind until trial. I appreciate all the support I have been getting. I am happy to finally have my day in court.
In addition to this tweet, Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin, held a news conference in Houston during which he said that the government was wrong to charge Clemens and that he looked forward to proving his innocence. Finally, on Friday Clemens appeared on a Boston radio station to further proclaim his innocence.
Apparently, all of this was too much for Judge Walton, a no-nonsense jurist who presided over the Scooter Libby trial. Last night he issued a sternly written two-page order directing "all interested participants [to] refrain from making any further statements about this case to the media or in public settings outside the courtroom." Judge Walton noted:
There has already been extensive media coverage about the case fueled, at least in part, by the comments made by the defendant, the defendant's counsel [and] individuals who presumably will be witnesses if this case proceeds to trial . . . To issue public comments to the media that, whether intentional or not, may affect the ability of the court to empanel an impartial jury (and to maintain the jury's impartiality throughout the trial if one is empaneled) the undersigned member of the court will not tolerate such behavior from anyone."Judge Walton added that any violation of his order "will be confronted with the full authority of the Court."