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Breaking: Barry Bonds guilty of obstruction of justice, but not perjury. Which makes no sense at all.

Apr 13, 2011, 5:42 PM EDT

Barry Bonds

The jury in the Barry Bonds case has reached a verdict. At least on one count: Barry Bonds is guilty on the charge of obstruction of justice.  The jury has reached a hung verdict on the other three remaining counts. This makes no sense at all.

Bonds was facing four charges in all: three counts of lying to a grand jury — one each about taking steroids, taking HGH and receiving injections of any kind — and one catch-all count. That was the obstruction charge.  I’m not entirely sure how the jury could logically conclude that Bonds obstructed justice but not also conclude that he lied about the three specific topics for which he was accused of perjury.  There were no allegations of any other acts of obstruction beyond his testimony. He didn’t destroy evidence, for example.  If you have him for obstruction, how do you not have him on everything?  What possible act beyond lying — which the jury is saying they can’t agree on — can they convict him of obstruction?

The maximum sentence Bonds can receive for the obstruction count is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. That’s not going to happen, however: others who have been convicted of similar charges in the BALCO prosecutions with similar criminal records (i.e. none), have received probation, short jail sentences and/or home confinement.  Most believe that Bonds would not receive anything greater.  The next hearing in the case — which could be the sentencing, but could be something prior to sentencing — has been set for May 20th.

As for the other three: the government has the option to retry Bonds.  I’d normally say that after all of this they wouldn’t bother. But then again, I thought they wouldn’t bother after most of their perjury evidence was thrown out on appeal, and yet they plowed ahead.

Now they have a conviction. On one count, and it’s a confusing verdict at that which could very well be the subject of a lot of post-trial procedure by the defense due to its logical inconsistency.  If you thought a verdict would bring closure: think again.

UPDATE:  More mystery.  It’s being reported that the basis of the obstruction conviction was the jury finding that Bonds obstructed justice with respect to his “Statement C” as listed in Count 5.  The underlined part of the following is “Statement C”

Q: Did Greg 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? …

Q: Right.

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…

That is the answer that, according to the jury, obstructed justice. This despite the fact that the government lawyers questioning him had every opportunity to follow up, to clarify and to tell Barry Bonds that he wasn’t answering their question. An opportunity that they didn’t take, presumably because at the time they didn’t think that the answer Bonds gave was particularly problematic.

So: Bonds saying that he was a “celebrity child” who didn’t get into anyone’s business obstructed justice and brought down a prosecution over seven years in the making.
You cool with that?

  1. rapmusicmademedoit - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Spend another 50 million on another trial, forget the recession.

    • professorperry - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:10 PM

      The Bonds Trial – TARP for lawyers.

      • Old Gator - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:57 PM

        We nailed him, boys. Rope, oak tree and pitchfork time!

  2. drmonkeyarmy - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    When I saw the verdict it made no sense to me. I came to this site hoping to get some type of logical explanation from Craig….but it seems as though he is as confused as everybody else. I guess my question would be, does the judge have any discretion to point out the logical inconsistencies in their verdict?

    • rapmusicmademedoit - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:50 PM

      I asked OJ Simpson and he said no.

    • clydeserra - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:11 PM

      well if it were not guilty on the others, maybe, but since there was no verdict in the others I can’t see it.

    • Millard Baker - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:13 PM

      See Tammy Thomas perjury trial verdict for another logically inconsistent verdict. Such verdicts apparently can’t be questioned by any authority.

    • witchrunner - Apr 14, 2011 at 8:57 AM

      dr: It’s time you develop some confidence in yourself. Assuming he is right, he at least provided an explanation. It doesn’t have to be logical. Heck, not much going on now a days is logical. And, yes, the judge does have discretion in this matter. In all likelihood, this verdict will be thrown out, assuming the author is correct in his facts. The jury seems to think that if one invokes the Miranda right to remain silence then they are obstructing justice by refusing to answer questions. Not exactly how our justice system works.

  3. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:48 PM


    • clydeserra - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:12 PM

      mostly, yes.

  4. lbehrendt - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    ESPN’s Lester Munson suggests that the obstruction of justice conviction is based on Bonds giving evasive answers to the grand jury. I’m not a criminal lawyer, I think that an obstruction conviction can be based on giving evasive answers, but did the prosecution even argue this?

  5. paperlions - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    Could it be that all of the juror agree that he lied about something (leading to the obstruction of justice conviction), but that they don’t agree about the specific lie? Using a simple example, if 6 jurors thought he took HGH, and the other 6 thought he took steroids/got injections…couldn’t such a scenario lead to this silliness?

    • Richard In Big D - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:20 PM

      This explanation makes sense to me. I’m just glad there’s finally been a conviction of an obvious PED using baseball player. Now, if the court clerk can somehow finagle sentencing so that he starts serving his timm the same week HOF ballots are sent out…

      • mgflolox - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:30 PM

        You gonna be fine with that level of justice if it’s applied to you someday?

      • Old Gator - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:58 PM

        During my four and a half years with my first wife, it was applied to me every day. Aside from leaving me broken and bitter, it didn’t do me all that much harm.

  6. Millard Baker - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    The jury hearing the trial of cyclist Tammy Thomas also reach a legally & factually inconsistent verdict but it doesn’t matter – legally inconsistent verdicts are apparently perfectly acceptable in California.

    • clydeserra - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:13 PM

      its not in california. Neither was the thomas case

  7. jacklynd - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    From the beginning I’ve felt this was a witch hunt. The laws at the time of this initial investigation were murky and not applied evenly. Barry Bonds became the poster child for the illicit use at a time when so many others were doing the same thing.

    The Feds should have drawn a line in the sand and said that as of January 1st. 2000whenever and after that time anyone caught using the drugs would face x penalty. That wasn’t the case and I feel that the prosecutors used Bonds to make their own careers.

    So personally, I hope he gets off and personally, I hope that from this time forward users of steroids and more specifically those administering them get penalized equally across the board.

    • mjwalsh54 - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:02 PM

      You’re an idiot. Or maybe you’re just too lazy to understand nuance here.
      This case and the conviction had nothing to do with whether Bonds used or not. It has everything to do with lying in a federal investigation and to a grand jury.
      You think guys who lie to the Feds should get off? Then you clearly haven’t got a clue how how that would throw the justice system into chaos. Why ever tell the truth?
      Being investigated for drugs? Murder? PEDs? Tax fraud? Hey … just take the stand and lie your way out of it.

      I have no sympathy for Bonds, emens, Ramirez or Palmiero. They livedlives of privilege, got women and country club memberships thrown at them for years, and most never picked up a tab. Then they get caught on something more important than hitting a 3-2 slider, think they can just lie their way through it. Idiots. Hope they all go to jail.

      And take this to the bank: NONE will ever be in the HOF.

      • cur68 - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:11 PM

        Whoa, dude, ease up just a little. No one’s insulting you; no need to lay in to someone like that. I get the sense Bonds took your girl or your club membership after that rant. If Bonds lied to the GJ then they should be able to prove it, right? All they proved was that they are lousy at asking questions. Plenty of blame to go around here. The sentiment that he doesn’t deserve the HOF is much more open to nuance, if you ask me. With other cheaters (Gaylord Perry & every other HOF pitcher that ever doctored a baseball) in the hall and people who did unsavory things (Ruth, Cobb, DiMaggio) in the HOF, I think there’s plenty of argument for Bonds to go in too. Is he better or worse than Cobb as a person? What about Perry and his spitball-cheating? There’s your nuance.

      • mjwalsh54 - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:19 PM

        CUR68, you’re right; a tad too personal there. Just tired of all these people who post to boards like this, defending athletes who disrespect the game, fans, and themselves.
        They all make 10s of millions of dollars, and it’s well known that 70% are broke within 3 years after the game.

        Life owes them nothing. The Feds owe them nothing. Sorry.

  8. jkcalhoun - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Except for Bonds’ irrelevant thoughts about friendship and celebrity, which did not derail the line of questioning but only delayed it for a moment or two , this is the one exchange during the testimony that included a direct question (paraphrase: did anyone other than doctors inject you with anything?) and elicited a direct answer (no). So: weird interpretation, panel.

    Maybe his answer constitutes felony-grade beating around the bush, but that’s not what he was charged with.

  9. atwatercrushesokoye - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Good to see the justice system finally being used for good rather than tying it up with those pesky murder, rape, robbery trials. If the cops would just quit being so over the top and pressing charges against those “criminals” we could finally have a smooth and efficient justice system that could get to the bottom of the most important thing in society…who took steroids in baseball!

    Sarcasm off

  10. xmatt0926x - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    Good God. Give him some probabtion and lets move on. He’s already received the worst punishment he can in that everything he achieved has been tarnished forever. Look at Manny Ramirez or Clemens, McGwire, Sosa, etc. How about Palmeiro? Here’s a guy with 3000 hits and 500 HR’s and nobody cares about him anymore. Imagine being at the pinnacle of baseball for 15 to 20 years and building historic, hall of fame careers just to lose it all in a couple years. Thats the worst punishment these guys can get. They would have had years and years more of fan adulation wherever they went even after retirement and a place in baseball history thats now all gone for these guys. They will now be sneered at and snickered at and labled as cheaters for the rest of their lives. Thats good enough punishment for me. Let the government handle the governing of this country and let baseball handle it’s own business.

    • Richard In Big D - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:28 PM

      If that’s the way to handle these types of things, then all the court should have done with Bernie Madoff was take his money away. In reality, not only must the ill-gotten gains be taken away from the offenders, but they must be punished for having obtained them in a less than honest manner…

      • mgflolox - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:46 PM

        That would have been fine if Madoff actually had the money to make restitution to his victims. I’m sure they would much have their money back than see him in prison. Madoff did real harm to people, it’s hard to see how Bonds hurt anybody but himself.

      • xmatt0926x - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:02 PM

        I probably should have been more clear. I am aware that it is a crime to lie to the grand jury, etc. I’m not saying how it should “officially” be handled as much as how I wish it would go. I was just making a general point that I wish all these steroid guys would just go away into a lifetime of obscurity, which is what the major punishment will be for these guys. Baseball has seemed to move on in recent years from that disastrous period and this stuff with Bonds and Clemens just keeps it dragging on and on.

  11. gabrielthursday - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    As much as I agree that Bonds shouldn’t face real jail time, there’s another high-profile, targeted defendent currently serving 7 years in federal prison for one count of obstruction – Conrad Black. iirc, Martha Stewart served jail time on conviction for obstruction as well.

    In this case, the real problem would be that Bonds is essentially being convicted of being evasive in testimony- not even perjury. That, to my mind, is offensive to the right against self-incrimination.

    No, the US justice system is not the best in the world. It is better than the vast majority, but you don’t see this kind of thing in England or Australia.

    • cur68 - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:29 PM

      Or Canada. Conrad Black’s a Canadian, BTW. His trial, in Chicago, was a lynching, too. I do believe that obstruction charge was all that they got him with after dropping the 12 or so other charges. There wouldn’t have BEEN an obstruction charge if they hadn’t brought the original charges (that they dropped); the obstruction was allegedly committed after he was charged but before he was informed of the charges. Nice and logical, eh?
      The Bonds case is even weaker than the Black case. Don’t anyone tell me that illogical verdicts don’t stand.

    • jwbiii - Apr 14, 2011 at 6:30 AM

      Conrad Black was also convicted of $60M in fraud charges. Most of the fraud charges have been overturned on appeal due to improper instructions given by the judge to the jury and he is now out on bail. At the time of his sentencing, the concurrent sentence for obstruction sort of made sense. With most of the fraud convictions overturned, it now it looks like a travesty with the punishment in no way fitting the crime.

      Black renounced his Canadian citizenship to become the Lord of Crossharbour, a member of the British House of Lords. I am sure that he is much revered by the denizens of the Isle of Dogs.

  12. tomemos - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    This is not dissimilar to the inconsistent verdict the jury reached in the Oscar Grant/Johannes Mehserle case. Juries just want to have it both ways sometimes, it seems.

  13. mplsjoe - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    Craig, you suggest that the verdict could be attacked based on a “logical inconsistency.” That’s wrong for two reasons. First, there’s only one verdict – guilty of obstruction – and so there is nothing to which that verdict can be inconsistent. The deadlocks are just that; they’re do-overs. Second, even if the jury had acquitted Bonds of the perjury charges and found him guilty of obstruction, there would be no problem. Criminal verdicts may not be legally inconsistent. That is. the elements of one guilty-verdict crime may not negate the elements of another guilty-verdict crime. But in large part because of the jury’s power of lenity (nullification) and because we never know why a “not guilty” verdict is issued, there is no problem with logically inconsistent verdicts of guilty on one charge but not guilty of others.

    That said, to answer your question – no, I’m not cool with any of this. Not the prosecution, which was a waste of time. And not the verdicts/mistrials, which are a cop out. It feels like the jury agreed that Bonds did something generally wrong but couldn’t agree on what it was. I dislike that kind of verdict.

  14. pghsteel412 - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    i mean no one is disputing the fact bonds took hgh or steroids.. he says he did, but he was told it was something different… do i believe that? no.. but if i was a juror theres no way i could convict the guy without greg andersons testimony. so i dont know how it was a mistrial on the other 3 counts based just on the case and not all the outside implications.. the prosecution did a terrible job in this case.. and no one proved how he could have knowingly took hgh/steroids without a reasonable doubt

  15. bc666 - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:56 PM

    A total waste of tax dollars. Big F’ing deal that he was found guilty of lying. He’ll get a fine and house arrest. That’s really a harsh penalty. As for the idiot on the jury who couldn’t come to the conclusion that Bonds has been taking steroids or HGH since the 90’s…….just goes to show how stupid some people really are.

    • pghsteel412 - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:43 PM

      see.. thats whats wrong.. people take outside influences in.. he admitted he took that stuff… but prosecution did a shitty job proving he knowingly took it, thats why it was a mistrial.. and he wasnt found guilty of lying, he was found guilty of giving evasive answers. jurors arent there to have opinions, they are there to listen to case made by prosecutor and defense and come to conclusion based on those facts… not how big bonds head got from pirates to giants

      • [OHK HACKING] - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:42 AM

        actually… Bonds never admitted to taking that stuff. The media likes to interpret his statements as an admission, but they are far from it. in fact he testifies that he doesn’t think Greg would do that to him.

      • tommygx - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:58 AM

        That is an amazing bit of truth from OHK. Bonds actually never admitted he used steroids. In fact, if you look at the counts he is being indicted for, he very clearly and emphatically denied ever using steroids.

      • pghsteel412 - Apr 14, 2011 at 8:58 AM

        ohk— he did admit he took them after he failed a drug test, but stated he took the cream and the clear which he thought were flaxseed oil and arthritic cream… the point is he eventually did admit he took them.. hes just stating he didnt knowingly take steroids and hgh, that he thought once again they were flaxseed oil and arthritic cream

      • tommygx - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:58 PM

        For pgh:
        That is a lie.
        If it is already established that Bonds did steroids, why did the prosecution spend the entire trial to show that he did? With the “big head big hands”, “roid rage” “evidence”?

      • pghsteel412 - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:14 PM

        to tommy— because bonds stated that he didnt knowingly take steroids, and only admitted to having taken them after he failed a drug test, he stated he took the cream and the clear which he thought were flaxseed oil and arthritic cream. the prosecution tried to show that he knowingly took steroids and hgh, and his excuse was he didnt know what it was, that he was just taking what greg anderson was giving him.. i mean if u go to google and type bonds taking steroids and read his grand jury testimony from 2003 its all in there… so how is that a lie?

      • tommygx - Apr 14, 2011 at 4:59 PM

        When did Barry say he took the clear and the cream? Another lie.
        Here is the 2003 grand jury testimony transcript.

        Show me where Barry said he took the clear and the cream.

      • pghsteel412 - Apr 14, 2011 at 5:35 PM

        Barry Bonds testified to a grand jury that he used a clear substance and a cream given to him by a trainer who was indicted in a steroid-distribution ring, but said he didn’t know they were steroids, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.

        Bonds told a U.S. grand jury that he used undetectable steroids known as “the cream” and “the clear,” which he received from personal trainer Greg Anderson during the 2003 season. According to Bonds, the trainer told him the substances were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a pain-relieving balm for the player’s arthritis.

        there is where he admits it

      • tommygx - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:21 AM

        That site is lying.

        Here is the 2003 grand jury testimony transcript.

        Show me where Barry said he took the clear and the cream.

  16. otisls - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    what an awful waste of U.S. taxpayer’s money…..

    • tommygx - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:02 AM

      By the way, why isn’t the prosecution and Steve Hoskins being tried for perjury? I mean, the proof is already on record, wouldn’t cost us a cent.

  17. snowbirdgothic - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:40 PM

    Let’s be honest with ourselves here. Bonds was convicted on one count of “Well, we know he did SOMETHING.”

    • tommygx - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:01 AM

      More like, gee Bonds didn’t do anything, and now the Feds are exposed as blatant liars that would lie and make up evidence in order to incriminate you, we better convict him on this ridiculous ticky tack count to save face for the Feds.

  18. florida727 - Apr 14, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    Sorry, but there is no elite athlete in the English-speaking free world that doesn’t understand the importance their body plays in them earning a living, and making millions from it. To say Bonds “didn’t know” he was taking steroids, yet admitting he did (unknowingly) take them, is laughable. Imagine Michael Jordan or David Beckham or any other world-class athlete taking such a cavalier position regarding the treatment of their money-maker… their body. This guy is a liar. Plain and simple. Kiss the HOF goodbye Barry. Now let’s see if Selig has the guts to expunge Bonds name from the record books. Doubtful. He’s already proven he has no spine.

    • tommygx - Apr 14, 2011 at 5:01 PM

      Bonds did not say he took steroids unknowingly, he said the DIDN’T take steroids period. Get it right. Please don’t lie, or “misinterpret”. Here is the actual Count 1:

      Question: Well, when you say you don’t think he would do that, to your knowledge, I mean, did you ever take any steroids that he gave you?

      Answer: Not that I know of.

      • pghsteel412 - Apr 14, 2011 at 6:39 PM

        right there is where he admits it

      • tommygx - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:16 AM

        Again, that site is lying. Here is the actual transcript:

        Question: Well, when you say you don’t think he would do that, to your knowledge, I mean, did you ever take any steroids that he gave you?

        Answer: Not that I know of.

  19. pghsteel412 - Apr 15, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    well i read the whole link u posted, and on page 25 bonds says greg anderson gave him the clear which he was told was flaxseed oil, and on page 48 he was given the cream because he was sore.. and the question isnt whether he took steroids, its did he knowingly take them.. which he says he didnt.. so i dont know what u r talking about, and even in the opening statements made by his lawyer he admitted steroid use.. just that he didnt know what he was taking was steroids.. so u should probably read all facts

    • tommygx - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:44 PM

      You are lying or “misinterpreting” again. How is saying you took a clear medicine that is supposed to be flaxseed oil saying you took The Clear? Nowhere in the Grand Jury testimony was The Clear or The Cream specifically mentioned.

      And taking a cream for sores does not equate with taking The Cream.

      Now please don’t lie again.

      • pghsteel412 - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:56 PM

        for sores? what are you talking about? did u actually read the thing? or just cut and paste it? he stated he took a clear substance that he was told was flaxseed oil, he and his lawyer later admitted in the opening statements of this trial that the clear was a steroid but that he didnt know it was at the time he took it? i cant argue with u anymore, ur too dumb and u wont listen to facts, many websites have articles stating this but yet you dont wanna believe it. so believe what u want, even though its wrong.. its weird that 100’s of websites are lying, his lawyer is lying and everyone is lying according to u, yet all u have is grand jury testimony which we both know says he took the clear and the cream, which he thought were flaxseed oil and to help his arthritis, and it later came out that those things were actually steroids and hgh… but like i said believe what u want.. im done

      • tommygx - Apr 15, 2011 at 5:51 PM

        Yeah, again, saying you took a clear substance that is supposed to be flaxseed oil is not saying you took The Clear.

        Oh, and here’s something for you to chew on. Bonds had his best offensive seasons as the most verified clean player during 2002-2004, with five reporters following him everywhere, with a federal investigation solely investigating him and strip searching his house, BALCO, Anderson, and anybody related to them on a daily basis, with a reality show Bonds on Bonds going on detailing his daily life, as the sole target of the steroid mess.

      • pghsteel412 - Apr 16, 2011 at 12:18 PM

        why would that be something for me to chew on??? bonds is my fav player since he came up with pirates to single handedly taking giants to world series, being the most feared hitter in mlb history based on all the intentional walks he got.. so how is that something for me to chew on???

        and it later came out that the clear substance he took that he thought was flaxseed oil was The Clear… which bonds lawyer admitted in his opening statements.. but i guess ALLLLLLL the websites with quotes from bonds after his grand jury testimony are lying. and u still havent produced any evidence after his grand jury testimony that he still denies it

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