Roger Clemens' record as a litigant continues to be just as bad as his record as a pitcher was good:
A federal judge in Texas reaffirmed his original dismissal of most of the claims in Roger Clemens' defamation suit against former trainer Brian McNamee, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday.
The decision clears the way for McNamee to pursue his own defamation suit against the former seven-time Cy Young Award winner.
In his opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Keith Ellison wrote that "if (Clemens) believes that the federal investigators or the Mitchell Commission overstepped the bounds of the law, he is free to bring suit against those enemies, subject to possible immunity."
That last bit refers to the main thrust of McNamee's defense, which was that he can't possibly be sued for defamation because his statements were made while being questioned by law enforcement. The judge agreed with that. Which is fine in my mind insofar as it relates to stuff he said to actual federal agents. I'm not so fine that things he said to George Mitchell should be privileged on those grounds, though, because last I checked, Mitchell was acting as an apparatchik for Major League Baseball's giant P.R. exercise that was the Mitchell Report, not any legitimate law enforcement function.
But that's boring legal stuff. The less-boring implication of all of this is that Clemens' use of the legal system to serve his own P.R. purposes has now imploded in spectacular fashion. Which I and every lawyer with half a brain said it would way back in January 2008. Let's review the reasons why we thought this:
Reason #1: Defamation cases are hard to win, especially for celebrities, and even when you do win, the damages are small;
Reason # 2: Defamation lawsuits often create bigger audiences for the false statements than the false statements enjoyed in the first place, and have the added negative effect of opening up one's life and reputation to scrutiny;
Reason # 3: Even if the statements made by the defamer really are false, the plaintiff -- Clemens in this case -- stands a good chance of whiffing on one of the other essential elements of the suit or some other technicality. When that happens the public only hears about the loss, and concludes that the defendant was telling the truth even if he wasn't.
To review the bidding: Clemens has lost the suit; Clemens' embarrassing and often shameful personal life came to light as a result of the suit; and even though Clemens' loss is on technical grounds as opposed to some judgment that he was actually lying, from now until the end of history, people will reasonably assume that he was, in fact, the liar (not that they didn't assume that anyway).
So once again, allow me to congratulate Roger Clemens -- and his colossally-awful lawyer, Rusty Hardin -- for their spectacular work. Well done, gentlemen, well done indeed!