Embattled baseball star Roger Clemens must turn over PR documents in the defamation suit brought by his former trainer, Brian McNamee, a federal judge ruled Jan. 30.
Clemens had sought to protect correspondence with his former PR advisor, Joe Householder of Public Strategies Inc., and his agents under the attorney-client privilege.
McNamee sued Clemens for defamation in 2009, alleging the now-retired pitcher orchestrated a PR campaign against McNamee to brand him a "liar" and claiming that McNamee manufactured evidence that Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs.
But Judge Cheryl Pollak last week upheld a September order that the PR and agent communications related to McNamee, Major League Baseball's Mitchell Report, Congressional hearings on steroids, and a criminal probe of Clemens must be turned over in the discovery process.
The court in September said that Clemens' camp failed to show that the documents they sought to withhold were part of a litigation strategy and not a media strategy. Clemens asked the court to reconsider its decision, prompting Pollak's Jan. 30 order affirming the earlier decision.
Clemens' attorneys had argued in asking for reconsideration of the September order that his communications with the press were not designed to restore his public image but were meant to "make an inevitable criminal referral less attractive" to the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C. But the judge said Clemens' legal team previously said the PR firm was hired to "offer guidance and advice" in anticipation of legal action and Congressional inquiries and "in light of the intense public and media scrutiny of Clemens' litigation strategy."
Pollak also said Clemens' camp failed to produce an adequate log of the documents that it sought to keep from McNamee and ordered his team to produce the documents by Feb. 7, ahead of a March court date between the parties.
New York courts have held PR advice and documents can be protected under the attorney-client privilege when they are tied to legal advice and strategy, rather than simply shaping the image of the client.