A panel three federal appeals judges Thursday refused to let Roger Clemens resurrect the explosive defamation suit he filed in Texas against his former trainer Brian McNamee in January of 2008, soon after the Rocket learned McNamee had accused him of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Just a month after hearing oral arguments in the case, three judges from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to affirm a lower federal court’s ruling that dismissed most of the claims in the lawsuit on the basis that Texas was not the proper jurisdiction for the case.
“The statements in this case concerned non-Texas activities – the delivery of performance-enhancing drugs to Clemens in New York and Canada,” the majority opinion read. “The statements were not made in Texas or directed to residents of Texas.”
Clemens sued McNamee for statements that McNamee made to former Senator George Mitchell, who used those statements in his report on performance-enhancing drug use in Major League Baseball, which accused the former Yankee of using steroids and human growth hormone. Also at issue in the suit were comments McNamee made in an interview with SI.com.
Two judges – Jerry Edwin Smith and W. Eugene Davis – voted to affirm the dismissal ruling, which U.S. District Court Judge Keith Ellison issued more than a year ago. The single dissenting vote was cast by Judge Catharina Haynes, who argued that McNamee’s repeated visits to Texas over the years he trained Clemens made Texas a suitable venue.
The decision might finally mean the end of the long-running complaint, which Clemens filed in conjunction with an appearance on “60 Minutes” attacking the Mitchell Report. McNamee has since filed his own defamation complaint against Clemens, a case that is situated in a federal court in Brooklyn.
Clemens, 48, still faces possible criminal charges as a result of a grand jury investigation into statements he made before Congress in February of 2008, when the seven-time Cy Young Award winner went under oath on live television to deny McNamee’s accusations. Investigators have spoken to dozens of witnesses, collected DNA samples and led numerous baseball players to the grand jury to testify.
Clemens’ attorney, Rusty Hardin, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.