Jim Porter: Barry Bonds’ conviction overturned
Special to the Sun
In case you’ve been in a cave, Barry Bonds holds Major League Baseball’s career record for home runs — 762, and 73 in a season in 2001.
However, as we also know, Barry had a little help, mother’s little helper. He supposedly was injected with steroids by his trainer Greg Anderson of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO).
At one point in the proceedings, the grand jury sought Bonds’ testimony to implicate his trainer Anderson. He was granted immunity in exchange for his “truthful and candid testimony” before the grand jury.
When called to testify, Bonds provided rambling, non-responsive answers. He was charged by the government with seven counts of obstruction of justice; however, the grand jury found him guilty of only one count, based upon the following exchange.
Bonds Rambles Non-Responsively
“Q: Did Greg, (your trainer) ever give you anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?
A: I’ve only had one doctor touch me. And that’s my only personal doctor. Greg; like I said, we don’t get into each others’ personal lives. We’re friends, but I don’t – we don’t sit around and talk baseball, because he knows I don’t want – don’t come to my house talking baseball. If you want to come to my house and talk about fishing, some other stuff, we’ll be good friends. You come around talking about baseball, you go on. I don’t talk about his business. You know what I mean?
A: That’s what keeps our friendship. 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.”
Bonds was then asked whether he ever injected himself with anything that Anderson gave him. His answer: “I’m not that talented, no.”
For that non-responsive testimony, Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice by the trial judge, which was upheld by a three-judge panel. He appealed to the entire 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in an en banc hearing in United States v. Bonds.
Obstruction of Justice
Bonds was convicted of violating Section 1503(a) of Title 18 of the United States Code which “was designed to prescribe all manner of corrupt methods of obstructing justice … whoever corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct or impede the due administration of justice, shall be punished…”
Bonds’ many talented, and you can bet pricy, lawyers argued that while his statements were non-responsive and may have wasted the grand jury’s time, they were not false, were not “corrupt” and did not rise to the level of obstructing justice.
Four Concurring Opinions
Bonds’ conviction was overturned by a 10 to one vote. Four concurring opinions were written, which is very unusual, each with a slightly different take, finding Bonds not guilty.
Colorful Dissenting Opinion
The dissenting judge wanted the conviction upheld — sprinkling in all sorts of baseball metaphors throughout the opinion, like “strike one,” “strike two” and “strike three” and “There is no joy in Mudville-Mighty Casey has struck out,” and finally “I cry foul.”
Hit Out of the Park
With the federal Appeals Court ruling overturning the former San Francisco Giant’s felony conviction for obstructing justice, the federal government ended up without a single conviction after a years-long and multimillion-dollar effort to prosecute the homerun king. His godfather Willie Mays would be proud. Or would he?
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee, Tahoe City and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.portersimon.com.