Breaking: Barry Bonds guilty of obstruction of justice, but not perjury. Which makes no sense at all.
Apr 13, 2011, 5:42 PM EDT
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? …
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?
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