Skip to content

Barry Bonds’ lawyers argue his obstruction of justice conviction today

Feb 13, 2013, 9:06 AM EDT

Barry Bonds AP

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:

source:

 

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Michael Wacha to make first rehab start Sunday with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals

    Aug 27, 2014, 7:18 PM EDT

    wacha getty Getty Images

    From Brian Stull of STL Baseball Weekly comes word that Michael Wacha has been cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment Sunday with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals. Wacha threw a simulated game at Springfield on Wednesday afternoon and reported no issues with his shoulder.

  2. Rockies place Wilin Rosario on the disabled list

    Aug 27, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT

    wilin rosario getty Getty Images

    Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario continues to battle with inflammation in his left wrist and was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday evening.

  3. Adam Wainwright has a “dead arm”

    Aug 27, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    Wainwright

    Which, despite the name of it, usually isn’t as serious as a lot of other stuff that can afflict pitchers.

  4. Yankees sign Mets castoff Chris Young

    Aug 27, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT

    chris young getty Getty Images

    Young signed a one-year, $7.25 million deal with the Mets this offseason in the hopes of building back his value before hitting the free agent market again, but instead he hit just .205 with eight homers and a .630 OPS in 88 games.

  5. Royals demote Aaron Crow to Double-A

    Aug 27, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Aaron Crow AP

    Crow was an All-Star in 2011 and has a 3.35 ERA in 226 career innings through age 26, including a 3.86 ERA in 59 appearances this season.

  6. David Ortiz is back in the Red Sox’s lineup

    Aug 27, 2014, 3:18 PM EDT

    David Ortiz AP

    In the 10 games prior to the injury Ortiz hit .515 with four homers, three doubles, and a 1.606 OPS while the Red Sox went 2-8.

  7. Jury awards Jose Offerman’s bat attack victim $940,000

    Aug 27, 2014, 3:05 PM EDT

    Jose Offerman AP AP

    Offerman ended a man’s career by hitting him with a bat. Now he has to pay for it.

  8. Yonder Alonso needs surgery to “re-attach a ruptured tendon to the bone”

    Aug 27, 2014, 2:21 PM EDT

    yonder alonso getty Getty Images

    Alonso is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason coming off a career-worst season in which he hit just .240 with seven homers and a .682 OPS in 84 games.

  9. Great Moments in Drug Testing and Punishment: The NFL Edition

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    marijuana

    The league that has no HGH testing and never gets criticized for its drug policies, has suspended a guy for a year for using a substance that is legal in two of the 22 states in which the NFL operates.

  10. Mark Appel had the best start of his pro career last night

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:13 PM EDT

    Mark Appel AP AP

    Astros prospect Mark Appel was terrible at Single-A and then there was a weird quasi-controversy about him throwing a bullpen session in Houston, but now the former No. 1 overall pick is thriving at Double-A.

  11. HBT Daily: Alex Gordon and the Royals keep on rolling

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    HBT Daily Logo

    Alex Gordon and the Royals fly under the radar, but here they are, on top of the AL Central.

  12. Tony Cingrani unlikely to pitch for Reds again this season

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:16 PM EDT

    Tony Cingrani Tony Cingrani

    Cingrani has been on the Triple-A disabled list since late June with a strained shoulder and recently had to halt the start of a throwing program due to continued discomfort.

  13. Diamondbacks expect Patrick Corbin to be out until June of next season

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT

    Patrick Corbin AP

    “He’d probably punch me if heard me saying that but you’re really going to take your time and make sure he’s ready to go.”

  14. Mike Napoli followed Manny Ramirez’s footsteps by going fifth deck in Toronto

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

    Mike Napoli Getty Getty Images

    Napoli became just the eighth visiting player to hit a homer into the fifth deck at Rogers Centre in the ballpark’s 26-year history.

  15. We are in the Golden Age of Awful Ceremonial First Pitches

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 10.52.11 AM

    Another doozy was uncorked in Houston last night.

  16. Marlins’ 0.48 ERA reliever Bryan Morris has a hip injury

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT

    Bryan Morris Marlins Getty Images

    Right-hander Bryan Morris has been ridiculously good for the Marlins since they acquired him from the Pirates for a draft pick in June, posting a 0.48 ERA in 38 innings. But now he’s hurt.

  17. Andrew McCutchen expects to play today

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    andrew mccutchen getty Getty Images

    The Pirates need McCutchen more than any playoff contender needs any single player.

  18. Angels may pursue Trevor Cahill as Bartolo Colon alternative

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    Trevor Cahill Getty Getty Images

    With an $11 million salary for next season Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon is apparently out of the Angels’ price range as they try to upgrade the injury wrecked rotation, but Diamondbacks right-hander Trevor Cahill could be an option.

  19. Daniel Hudson pitched last night. He may be pitching in the big leagues again soon

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:46 AM EDT

    Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Getty Images

    A guy who has been snakebitten is on his way back to the Snakes.

Featured video

Alex Gordon, MVP candidate
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (4885)
  2. D. Ortiz (2889)
  3. Y. Molina (2514)
  4. M. Cuddyer (2299)
  5. J. Soler (2185)
  1. Y. Darvish (2108)
  2. M. Machado (2039)
  3. J. Baez (2022)
  4. B. Colon (1988)
  5. J. Benoit (1981)