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Bonds Trial Update: The Brothers Giambi

Mar 30, 2011, 8:22 AM EST

Jason Giambi leave the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco

Yesterday’s installment of the Barry Bonds trial didn’t provide the salacious highs of Monday’s Kimberly Bell testimony, but it made up for it with a varied menu of witnesses.  Most notably Jason and Jeremy Giambi, but let’s take this all in order, shall we?

First up was a man named Barry Sample, an expert in drug testing. Which involves … giving samples. Hmm. Maybe someone is putting us on here, because that name is too on-the-nose.  His testimony sounded legit, however. He explained why it’s so hard to use a Whizzinator and stuff like that.  For the record, he also testified that Bonds’ 2003 sample — which was part of baseball’s pilot drug testing program — came up negative for drugs at first, though a second test of the sample came back positive. Anyone feel better about the veracity of the leaked name from that famous list yet?

Next up was a man named Dale Kennedy, who is in the business of collecting urine samples from Major League Baseball players. I bet he’s great at parties. His testimony seemed pretty irrelevant. He wasn’t even cross-examined.

After Kennedy’s testimony came the hubub about whether Kimberly Bell changed her testicle testimony since 2003. I discussed this in detail yesterday. Upshot: this could be a bad thing for the prosecution.  If the jury is instructed to ignore her testimony about Barry’s berries, her credibility may be irreparably damaged and if that happens, the only person who has testified that Bonds knew he had taken steroids prior to his grand jury testimony may be discredited.  For now the judge is taking no action on the matter. If that doesn’t change, no harm, no foul for the prosecution.

The most interesting testimony of the day came from former Giants trainer and current Dodgers trainer Stan Conte. Conte is one of the most respected trainers in the game, but he was thrust into steroids-in-baseball fame when the Mitchell Report came out. There we learned how Brian Sabean was content to throw him under the bus when it came to Barry Bonds and Greg Anderson.

Specifically, in 2000, Conte went to Sabean to complain about known drug dealers like Greg Anderson hanging out in the locker room. Conte asked Sabean if it were OK to kick Greg Anderson out of the locker room. Sabean didn’t object. But then Conte, no idiot, asked Sabean if he’d have Conte’s back if Barry Bonds got angry about it and tried to have him fired. According to the Mitchell Report — and revisited in Conte’s testimony yesterday — Sabean told Conte that he was on his own if that happened. You don’t have to be genius to see that Sabean’s baloney in this regard set up Conte as a potential scapegoat in the event someone ever raised a ruckus about the Giants’ tolerance of Anderson, Bonds and steroids (“I told the trainer to do what was necessary. If he didn’t . . . “).  It certainly makes Conte a sympathetic figure and bolsters his integrity when it comes to steroids in baseball.

Beyond that, Conte’s testimony focused on his disapproval of steroids, Bonds’ unique training regimen and how, over time, he and Bonds had a falling out over Bonds’ training and rehab.  It seemed like the prosecution wanted to use this friction as a means of showing that Bonds was a rogue and to imply that Bonds had something to hide from his trainer. The defense, in contrast, seemed to be arguing that Conte’s personal tiff with Bonds makes him a biased witness. Indeed, the defense seems to be doing that with everyone.  Personally, it doesn’t sound like either side can claim the Conte testimony as a big win. It was factual and straightforward, but there was no mention of Conte being aware of Bonds’ steroids use, let alone Bonds admitting that he was aware of it, and thus I can’t see how the jury can use it to reach any conclusions about whether Bonds lied under oath.

Finally came a trio of ballplayers: Jason Giambi, Jeremy Giambi and Marvin Bernard. All three of them testified to receiving steroids from Greg Anderson (though all also testified that they had been taking steroids before meeting Anderson too).  All of them testified that they more or less knew that what they were receiving was steroids or at least steroids-like substances that were designed to be undetectable performance enhancing drugs such as The Cream and the Clear.  None of them testified about Barry Bonds at all.

The point of the player testimony: to show the jury a pattern of ballplayers knowingly receiving steroids from Greg Anderson and hoping that they conclude that Barry Bonds had to have known too.  This could be effective if the ballplayers themselves came across as having a clear idea of what they were taking.  Based on secondhand accounts of the testimony this was hit-and-miss yesterday, with the Giambis and Bernard voicing varying degrees of certainty about it all, what the drugs were intended to do, and whether they felt the drugs actually, you know, worked.

It strikes me that the player testimony could provide corroborating and/or supporting evidence if the jury is inclined to believe that Bonds lied, but it’s hard to see how it provides anything close to a smoking gun.  And it’s a smoking gun that the prosecution has been unable to come up with so far.

  1. easports82 - Mar 30, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    Craig-

    Perhaps this is a naive, non-lawyer question, but why doesn’t the defense just hammer each of the witnesses on cross as to whether Bonds told them that he was taking steroids? Why does it seem from your coverage of the coverage that the defense is staying away from the central charge of perjury and making arguments around the drugs?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 30, 2011 at 9:13 AM

      Hard to say. It may have been asked and I just don’t know it (not getting transcripts). It may be that they don’t want to open a can of worms with a witness saying something like “well, no, but everyone knew it.” Or “He didn’t tell me directly, but I know he told Ellis Burks about it” or something.

      • Kevin S. - Mar 30, 2011 at 5:05 PM

        Wouldn’t “I know he told Ellis Burks” be hearsay and inadmissible?

  2. tcostant - Mar 30, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    They say a lawyer should never ask a question in court that he doesn’t know the answer to ahead of time. The simply asnswer is they likely don’t know how those witness will respond to that question.

  3. jdmcmill - Mar 30, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Seriously – how much taxpayer money has been spent on this already! We all know he is guilty but is this really going to be worth it when he gets 3 months and two years probation? Go after the real criminals, like ex-wifes that fleece dads for child support and use it as personal income.

  4. gairzo - Mar 30, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    Can we stop with yapping about too much government money being spent? Such a lame argument, and it’s a drop of rain in the Grand Canyon compared to what we spend to kill brown people.

    The government here is doing a very important job. You can’t lie under oath in a courtroom. They are proving Bonds lied.. HIS SKULL GREW!!!!!!!!!!! His nuts shrank. He went from a natural 190 pound speedster to a hulking 240 pound slugger.

    All of the above is evidence he had to know what he was taking. Any opposite conclusion must assume Bonds is uttertly stupid.

    On second thought…

  5. king3319 - Mar 31, 2011 at 2:28 AM

    “Too much government spending” is not a lame argument!!! Seriously all this money being spent to prove a liar is a liar, when this country already knows the answer!!! This country can put this “drop in the bucket” as little as it may be to much more important uses. In my humble opinion this money could be spent on bringing our soldiers home and taking care of the wounded and they’re families. Or putting some of those funds into other worthy causes such as finally cleaning up New Orleans, which is still not fully recuperated after Katrina, families have still not been helped from that tragedy. But hey jus one mans humble opinion.

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