Roger Clemens is returning to court on perjury charges after his first trial ended in a mistrial.
Opinions on whether Clemens should be prosecuted for perjury fall primarily into two groups.
There are those who think Clemens should be prosecuted not so much because of his alleged perjurious testimony but because they see him as a cheater who has sullied the MLB record books. They see the perjury trial as a way to punish him for his infidelity to professional baseball, not his oath.
Then there are those who see Clemens’s prosecution for perjury as a waste of time and taxpayers’ money. They either see perjury as a minor offense not worthy of the cost of prosecution or believe Clemens is being selectively prosecuted because of his fame.
Both groups are missing the real issue.
There are a number of prohibitions against perjury in the Bible (Exodus 23:1-2, Deuteronomy 19:16-19, Proverbs 14:25, 19:5, 19:9, 19:28, 21,28). Under Biblical law if you committed perjury, you were subject to the punishment for the crime about which you falsely testified. (Deuteronomy 19:16-19). You commit perjury in a theft case, you get the punishment for theft. You commit perjury in a murder case, you get the punishment for murder.
Seem harsh? Actually, there’s a good reason for it. A justice system is only as good as the veracity of the witnesses who participate in it. Justice is perverted daily in courtrooms where witnesses say they can’t remember when they do, spin their testimony to give a false impression or just outright lie.
Trial lawyers can only do so much in exposing false testimony. Some testimony is simply not subject to corroborating or controverting evidence. In such cases, the judge or jury has to become human polygraphs or mind readers and justice becomes less likely and more expensive.
The punishment under Biblical law was intended to be a strong deterrent because perjury has a cancerous effect on a justice system. See, Deuteronomy 19:20.
Clemens’s perjury trial is important not because it’s esssential to the integrity of Major League Baseball but because punishing perjury is essential to the administration of justice. GS