Feb 13, 2013, 9:06 AM EDT
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.
Bryce Harper accused of begging out of a game in order to avoid Jose Fernandez and preserve a hitting streak
Apr 21, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT
A report of some bad Nattitude in Washington.
Apr 21, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT
Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez exited Sunday’s game in the sixth inning with knee tendinitis, bending over at the waist in obvious pain after running out a ground ball.
Apr 21, 2014, 11:31 AM EDT
Someone needs to explain to 1995 Jim Thome that this is NOT how baseball is meant to be played.
Apr 21, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT
Not that there was any doubt about Albert Pujols reaching 500 career homers by the end of the season, but his strong start for the Angels with a league-leading six bombs puts him just two long balls shy of the magic number.
Apr 21, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
Three weeks into the season and Cleveland manager Terry Francona has already called his first team meeting.
Apr 21, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT
Emotions are sure to run high at Fenway later this morning.
Apr 21, 2014, 9:23 AM EDT
Lighten-up, baseball. It’s a fun game. Let’s let people actually have fun out there.
Apr 21, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT
That’s patently ridiculous, of course. But that’s the kind of nonsense you get when you start attacking guys for their alleged lack of hustle.
Apr 21, 2014, 6:39 AM EDT
The Unwritten Rules strike again. Plus, I wish you all a happy Spring Thanksgiving.
Apr 20, 2014, 11:35 PM EDT
J.J. Hardy thought extension talks with the Orioles would have already been underway, but the club has been silent on the matter.
Apr 20, 2014, 10:55 PM EDT
Ryan Howard is one of the more unlikely candidates to hit for the cycle, but he was one friendly scorer away from the achievement on Sunday against the Rockies.
Apr 20, 2014, 10:05 PM EDT
You’ll be seeing this play at the end of the season when the season’s wackiest plays are reviewed.
Apr 20, 2014, 9:10 PM EDT
Oh, nothing, just Dexter Fowler being coached by arguably the greatest hitter in baseball history.
Apr 20, 2014, 8:25 PM EDT
Ryan Braun likes hitting in the state of Pennsylvania.
Apr 20, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT
Jeff Francoeur is known for his arm, but who knew he’d be useful as a pitcher?
Apr 20, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT
The Red Sox and Orioles teamed up for a touching tribute at Fenway Park on Sunday.
Apr 20, 2014, 6:58 PM EDT
40-year-old Bobby Abreu is expected to join the Mets on Monday.
Apr 20, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT
Chipper Jones is not a fan of Carlos Gomez.
Apr 20, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw threw a 51-pitch, three-inning simulated game on Sunday in Los Angeles and could soon be cleared to embark on a minor league rehab assignment.
Apr 20, 2014, 4:12 PM EDT
The Cardinals have decided on a fill-in for starting pitcher Joe Kelly, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a strained left hamstring that he suffered Wednesday while trying to beat out a groundball. It’ll be 26-year-old lefty Tyler Lyons.
- Today is the Sox’ annual Patriot’s Day game. It’s more significant now than ever. 11
- Boswell: “Harper may be the Nats’ seventh-best player” 52
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights 71
- Boston Marathon heroes remembered with pregame ceremony at Fenway Park 10
- Benches clear in Pittsburgh after the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez bat flips a third-inning triple 179
- Hank Aaron is getting vile racist hate mail in retaliation for pointing out that racism still exists (249)
- Benches clear in Pittsburgh after the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez bat flips a third-inning triple (179)
- “They Don’t Know Henry” (167)
- Doug Glanville’s story about being racially profiled at his own home (127)
- There is still a racial divide in baseball (113)