Feb 13, 2013, 9:06 AM EST
Barry Bonds lawyers will head into court today to argue his appeal of his obstruction of justice conviction today. There will be no decision today because that’s not how appellate courts roll, but when you read the Bonds headlines later, that’s what it’s about.
To review: Bonds was acquitted on all counts of perjury, but convicted for obstruction of justice. The basis for that conviction: a rambling answer to a question about whether anyone besides team doctors ever injected him with anything. His initial answer was something incoherent about being a “celebrity child.” Prosecutors and the jury say that that answer was “intentionally false, misleading and evasive.”
What no one ever seems to mention, though, is that Bonds actually answered the question:
As I’ve said before: maybe that “no” is lie. Probably is in fact. But the jury didn’t agree, acquitting him on that very question with respect to the perjury count. No, the prosecution claimed, and the jury agreed, that the question was not answered. That Bonds “misled and evaded” the grand jury.
The prosecution can say that all it wants — and maybe the appeals court will uphold the conviction because courts hate overturning jury verdicts as a general rule — but the fact is, Bonds was asked a yes or no question and he answered “no.” He rambled for a minute, just as every single witness in every single deposition or grand jury hearing in the history of Anglo-American jurisprudence has done. But he answered the question. Even the jurors, interviewed after the trial, agreed that he did and questioned their conviction of him. “Wolfram” was one of the jurors:
Wolfram, 25, who works with developmentally disabled adults in Concord, Calif., said four of the jurors were unsure of the wording of that charge in the first place. She said she and those other jurors noticed that Bonds in his grand jury testimony eventually answered whether Anderson had ever injected him. But he did so a few pages later in his testimony, Wolfram said, not in the section mentioned in the charge. She said she and the other three jurors thought Bonds should not be convicted if he ultimately answered the question.
Wolfram said later, however, that they felt they had no choice because the jury instructions — authored by the prosecution — forbade them from looking at his “no, no” answer a page or two after the question was initially asked. To repeat: The prosecution, via the judge’s approval of their jury instruction, specifically told the jury TO NOT LOOK AT THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION. That is the legal basis of the appeal, by the way: bad jury instruction that all but required a guilty verdict, regardless of the actual facts.
Whatever the case, how all this constitutes obstruction of justice is utterly baffling to me still, a decade after he answered the question. Courts and common sense agree: It is not the job of the criminal justice system to punish an evasive or non-responsive witness. It is the job of the person asking the question to pin an evasive witness down. Here the lawyer in question didn’t do that, but either way, the question was ultimately answered.
Anyway, it’s now up to the Court of Appeals to explain how that constituted obstruction. I’m quite eager to hear how it does. And if it does, I’m quite eager to see if prosecutors start adding obstruction of justice counts to every single case on every single docket in the American judicial system. Because on this rationale, they most certainly could.
Jan 24, 2015, 10:40 PM EST
Tommy Milone underwent neck surgery in December to remove a benign tumor, but he was able to resume throwing just over two weeks later.
Jan 24, 2015, 9:35 PM EST
Top prospect Byron Buxton could be wearing a Twins uniform in the major leagues at some point this season according to GM Terry Ryan.
Jan 24, 2015, 8:30 PM EST
The Tigers and reliever Al Alburquerque avoided arbitration with a one-year deal on Saturday.
Jan 24, 2015, 7:25 PM EST
A Jonathan Papelbon trade to the Brewers may not be happening after all.
Jan 24, 2015, 6:20 PM EST
Franklin Gutierrez could make a return to the Mariners. The 31-year-old outfielder has had trouble staying healthy over the last few years.
Jan 24, 2015, 5:28 PM EST
Duensing he has been useful and durable as a middle reliever over the past two seasons, posting a 3.67 ERA (110 ERA+) in 115 1/3 innings over 135 appearances.
Jan 24, 2015, 4:53 PM EST
Beachy is currently making his way back from his second Tommy John surgery.
Jan 24, 2015, 4:01 PM EST
The Giants, Padres, Rangers, Braves, and Yankees are among the teams showing strong interest in Olivera.
Jan 24, 2015, 3:15 PM EST
Check out this scouting report from when Banks was 22 years old.
Jan 24, 2015, 2:40 PM EST
From the start, even in those turbulent times, even though Chicago was finding its way in a changing America, people in Chicago did not see the color of his skin. From the start, Chicago loved Ernie Banks.
Ryan Vogelsong “really wasn’t comfortable with what was going on” with Astros before returning to Giants
Jan 24, 2015, 2:16 PM EST
Did something strange happen between Ryan Vogelsong and the Astros which led to his return to the Giants?
Jan 24, 2015, 1:11 PM EST
Coleman, who ranks sixth on MLB’s all-time list with 752 stolen bases, spent last the two seasons as a minor league outfield/baserunning coach with the Astros.
Jan 24, 2015, 12:05 PM EST
Abad, 29, posted an excellent 1.57 ERA and 51/15 K/BB ratio across 57 1/3 innings out of Oakland’s bullpen in 2014.
Jan 24, 2015, 11:11 AM EST
Reactions from a baseball world in mourning after the passing of Cubs legend Ernie Banks.
Jan 24, 2015, 10:02 AM EST
With Rob Manfred set to take over for Bud Selig as MLB commissioner on Sunday, Alex Rodriguez recently paid him a visit in an attempt to clear the air and turn the page on the drama surrounding the Biogenesis scandal.
Jan 24, 2015, 8:55 AM EST
Ernie Banks, 1931-2015.
Jan 23, 2015, 11:15 PM EST
There was only one Mr. Cub. And he was one of the greatest men in baseball history.
Jan 23, 2015, 10:55 PM EST
The Indians are considering bringing Nolan Reimold on board.
Jan 23, 2015, 9:50 PM EST
The Astros and utilityman Marwin Gonzalez avoided arbitration on Friday.
Jan 23, 2015, 8:45 PM EST
The Braves added some outfield depth on Friday, claiming Eury Perez off waivers from the Yankees.
- Joe Posnanski: Remembering ‘Mr. Cub,’ Ernie Banks 12
- What they’re saying about the passing of Cubs legend Ernie Banks 7
- Alex Rodriguez recently met with incoming MLB commissioner Rob Manfred 15
- Ernie Banks, one of baseball’s greatest players and greatest ambassadors has died at age 83 75
- Sean Doolittle has a “slight” rotator cuff tear, won’t be ready for Opening Day 4
- Ryan Vogelsong re-signs with Giants after flirting with Astros 17
- Phillies and Brewers moving closer to Jonathan Papelbon trade 52
- Pete Rose will be at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati this year 29
- Bud Selig: The Greatest Commissioner in the History of Baseball (143)
- Max Scherzer’s seven-year deal with Nationals worth $210 million (119)
- Comments of the Day: some of you guys aren’t big Bud Selig fans (77)
- Ernie Banks, one of baseball’s greatest players and greatest ambassadors has died at age 83 (75)