Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bonds Conviction Upheld & Next Steps

Barry Bonds' obstruction of justice conviction has been upheld by a federal judge, who denied his motion for a new trial or acquittal on the charge.


Let's first remind ourselves of the charges against Bonds. There were 3 counts of perjury and 1 count of obstruction of justice:

- Two of the 3 perjury counts related to Bonds knowingly lying he took steroids and PEDs.

- The 3rd count (which is Count 2 in the indictment), however, referred to Bonds' denial that Anderson injected him. So this count, unlike the other 2, didn't require that the prosecution show that Bonds was injected with steroids. The prosecution just needed to show that Bonds was simply injected (who cares with what) and that he knowingly lied about it.

The jury made the following findings:

(a) The jurors couldn't unanimously agree that Bonds knowingly lied about taking steroids and PEDs, or that he lied about simply being injected. That means that all the charges involving steroids, needles and PEDs failed.

(b) The jurors unanimously agreed that Bonds obstructed justice by giving evasive and misleading testimony.

Overall, Bonds was not convicted for lying under oath but rather was convicted for being misleading and evasive under oath.

Here's one statement made by Bonds' during his grand jury testimony that was an example of an evasive answer:
Question: "Did Greg ever give you anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?" Bonds was asked.

Answer: "That's what keeps our friendship," Bonds said in the part of his answer the government charged was a crime. "You know, I am sorry, but that – you know, that – I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a famous father. I just don't get into other people's business because of my father's situation, you see."
In maintaining the conviction,  Judge Susan Illston wrote that Bonds was misleading on numerous occasions, and providing the answers later in his testimony did not make up for his initial evasion:
"(The) defendant repeatedly provided nonresponsive answers to questions about whether Anderson had ever provided him with injectables, resulting in the prosecuting attorneys asking clarifying question after clarifying question, and even once resulting in one prosecutor interrupting another who was about to move on to a new topic in order to clarify defendant's mixed responses. An evasive answer about an issue material to the grand jury is not necessarily rendered immaterial by the later provision of a direct answer, even if that direct answer is true."
What's Next 

U.S. sentencing guidelines provide that Bonds could get 15 to 21 months in jail, although Judge Illston has the discretion to modify that. For similar offenses in the BALCO steroids ring case, Judge Illston sentenced cyclist Tammy Thomas to six months of home confinement and track coach Trevor Graham to one year of home confinement. So jail time may not be in the cards, unless the prosecution decides to retry Bonds and is successful. This, however, would seem unlikely.

Expect Bonds to appeal the Court's decision. So this is not done yet.

Here's some more background on the case:

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