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Barry Bonds is gonna skate on the perjury charge

Jun 11, 2010, 2:29 PM EDT

Barry Bonds suit.jpgThe 9th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals just ruled
that prosecutors in the Barry Bonds/BALCO perjury case may not present urine
samples and other evidence that the government says shows Bonds knowingly used steroids. This ruling upholds a lower court decision barring prosecutors from showing
the jury any evidence collected by Bonds’ personal trainer Greg

Not to go too technical with this, but the basic argument by Bonds’ lawyers was that the prosecutors should not be able to admit into evidence test results, calendars and other documents which purported to prove that Barry Bonds knew he was taking steroids because they were hearsay.  They could not be authenticated, they could not be verified for accuracy, and there was no way for Bonds’ lawyers to attempt to impugn the evidence whatsoever.

The prosecutors’ arguments to the contrary revolved around several exceptions that exist allowing hearsay evidence to be admitted. I read the appellate briefs and I can tell you: the prosecutors’ position was not at all convincing. Basically, they argued that the records, though hearsay, should be
admitted because, well gosh darn it, this is the only evidence we have! However satisfying such an argument was, legally speaking it was an argument that was dead on arrival. Which, by the way, I predicted over a year ago when the prosecutors started making it.

And really, it shouldn’t have gotten that far. As we learned more than two years ago, Bonds’ testimony wasn’t all that strong a basis for a perjury charge to begin with. The guy took steroids, sure, and he was certainly trying to be coy about it at the time, but it never seemed to me at all that the prosecutors did the job necessary to justify a criminal charge over it. That kinda matters because we don’t put people in jail in this country because they’re jerks who probably did it. We require the government to bring strong cases and prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.  There were doubts aplenty here as to whether Bonds was lying to the grand jury.

The only way that evidence would be able to come in was if Greg Anderson testified about it, explaining what each document represented, when he prepared it and why. Greg Anderson famously refused to testify, however, and did a lot of time in jail because of it.  It was ultimately his decision, but one that the prosecution was stuck with.  Once he made it, the viability of any prosecution of Barry Bonds ended.

Or it least it should have ended it. This ruling should finish the job. To date, however, the prosecution has taken every available opportunity to delay the case. They waited until the eve of trial to take their appeal. They extended the thing with an unorthodox en banc appeal that delayed things even longer. In light of this, I’m sure they’ll do some more delaying before they finally and formally dismiss the case.

But dismiss it they should.

  1. Len - Jun 12, 2010 at 1:12 AM

    John, I’m sorry Willie Mays is the greatest baseball player in all phases of the game.

  2. Aaron Moreno - Jun 12, 2010 at 1:23 AM

    Craig, you nailed it. Any lawyer or law student should see that when all you have is the residual hearsay exception and no authentication or chain of custody, you have nothing. This case will never go to trial, it’ll just delay until it can be dumped on a busy news day.

  3. JBerardi - Jun 12, 2010 at 1:27 AM

    Bonds was a significantly better hitter than Mays.

  4. Old Gator - Jun 12, 2010 at 9:13 AM

    Barry, is that you?
    But it’s true, enough lollygagging. Let’s dismiss the case and finally get around to forming that lynch mob.

  5. YANKEES1996 - Jun 12, 2010 at 11:54 AM

    I agree in partial to your comments but be careful your slant for Bonds is showing. Mark McGwire was given no benefit of the doubt anyone who follows baseball closely knew he was using roids, he just did not have the nerve to admit his mistakes in front of Congress. Mr. Bonds on the other hand just out and out lied to everyone about his steroid use. He said that he never knowingly used steroids and lets face it everyone including him, me and you know that is a complete falsehood. Professional athletes always know exactly what they are putting in their bodies especially athletes like Bonds who had been around the number of years he had been. The court case against him was built on the words of liars and people covering for other people and believe me those types of cases never come to the ending that the government wants. The word of one liar collapses and there goes the entire case. Your unobscured view of our legal system is awe inspiring but I can most certainly let you know that the criminals do not always get the punishments they so richly deserve, just ask O.J. Simpson. Afterall, it may say “with justice for all” but we don’t have a justice system we have a legal system.

  6. Craig Calcaterra - Jun 12, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    I know Bonds did steroids. I presume he knew he did. I also presume that he attempted to lie to the grand jury about it.
    My issue is with the government’s fecklessness in charging and attempting to prove it. Go read the post I linked above (the long hyperlink that begins with “but it never seemed to me at all . . .” That’s my analysis of Bonds’ testimony from the grand jury and initial assessment of the indictment from a couple of years ago.
    It is abundantly clear to me that the government was careless as hell in trying to pin Bonds down. The reason for this is obvious: they didn’t care nearly as much about his testimony as they cared about the photo op of having him show up at the courthouse. It was ill-prepared and sloppy questioning that cannot and should not form the basis of a perjury charge. This is less a steroids point or a baseball point than it is a legal point, I’ll grant you. But it’s way more important than that in my mind.
    If they had Barry dead to rights on a lie and could prove it, great, go for it. But they don’t and they’ve known that for a couple of years. Nevertheless, the government is attempting to just halfass a criminal conviction of a citizen on largely political grounds, and I find that offensive and frightening.

  7. JudyJ - Jun 12, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    There are tooooooooo many other things the government can be working on rather than Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. They have probably had their tax returns searched over and over and had clandestine calls late into the night by the Justice Department. Let’s move on.

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