Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Mitchell Report Gets Better and Better

Pete Rose investigator John Dowd is unimpressed with George Mitchell's refusal to make the documents, notes, and interviews that went into the Mitchell Report public:

"That's ridiculous," chief Rose investigator John Dowd said Thursday. "That surprises me. I'm sorry to hear that."

This, however, seems way worse:

Mitchell, according to lawyers involved in his probe, did not create transcripts of interviews. However, aides took notes.

No transcripts? Great job, George! Now, instead of simply turning over a transcript of McNamee's allegedly defamatory statements to Clemens' lawyers and walking away, you managed to make your aides and yourself witnesses in the lawsuit. I mean, absent a transcript someone has to testify as to what, exactly, McNamee said, and who else would it be? What's more, if your aides' interview notes suck and your testimony comes off sketchy (e.g. it is revealed during a deposition that your investigatory approach was so reckless that it all but ensured that phony information would result) you may make yourself and baseball co-defendants!

I've said before that I don't think Clemens has a cause of action against Major League Baseball or George Mitchell. I still don't think he does, but the more I hear about Mitchell's methodology, the less convinced I become. Today it's no transcripts. Given Mitchell's reliance on handwritten notes -- and given his seeming refusal to turn over records to the media -- it's not hard to construct a scenario in which a claim of spoliation of evidence comes into play. Is it likely that someone like George Mitchell would be so careless with this kind of stuff so as to make that a real possibility? Nah, but then again I never would have expected him to not transcribe interviews and testimony of drug dealers making claims against star athletes either, so who the hell knows? It's amazing the stuff you can find out over the course of a deposition.

What I do know is that given what appears to be some surprisingly poor procedural steps taken in putting it together, the door may soon open for Clemens -- or others who believe they were falsely named -- to mount a full frontal assault on the Mitchell Report if they have the inclination to do so.

And that, my friends, is not how Bud drew this all up back in 2006.

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