Skip to content

Appeals court to reconsider Barry Bonds’ obstruction of justice conviction

Jul 2, 2014, 8:55 AM EST

Closing Arguments Delivered In Barry Bonds Trial Getty Images

Barry Bonds has already done his time — if you can call 30 days in his mansion “time” — but he is still seeking to have his conviction for obstruction of justice arising out of the BALCO investigation overturned. He just got an assist in that regard from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has agreed to re-hear his appeal.

Originally a three-judge panel rejected his appeal, but appellants have a right for an en banc rehearing — in which the entire panel of judges determine whether to reconsider — and a majority of the 28-judge panel granted his petition. That vacates last September’s decision against Bonds and gives the entire panel a chance to weigh-in.

At specific issue is whether it’s OK for prosecutors to get an obstruction of justice conviction based on statements that were not held to be perjury. Which is what happened in this case. You may recall that Bonds, under oath gave a long, rambling answer about whether he had ever been injected with drugs, famously going on about how he was “a celebrity child” before finally answering in the negative. The prosecution basically double-charged Bonds for that statement, first with perjury and then with obstruction. The jury decided that was not perjury and acquitted him on that count. They did, however, hold that it was obstruction. The 9th Circuit apparently wants to reconsider whether that’s kosher.

As we noted at length at the time of the conviction, the idea that Bonds’ answer, however rambling it was, constituted obstruction of justice, is a joke. Bonds may have riffed for a few moments, but soon after he directly answered a yes-or-no question with a “no.” A “no” that the jury decided was not a lie. There aren’t many criminal cases in the history of Anglo-American jurisprudence in which a testifying target of a grand jury investigation did not, at least for a moment, try to fudge his way out answering a question. One of the first things you’re taught in law school is that it’s your job as the lawyer to rein the witness in and get him to answer. The prosecutor eventually did that here. And then the prosecutor decided to literally make a federal case out of the fact that a witness rambled for a minute, calling it obstruction of justice. The jury, it’s worth noting, thought it was a joke too, but they felt their hands were tied.

Good for the Ninth Circuit for reconsidering a conviction which was clearly bogus and a charge which was designed as nothing more than a face-saving throw-in for a prosecution that was doomed from the very moment it became clear that the prosecution did not have sufficient evidence to go forward but decided to do so anyway.

The rehearing will take place in September. If it’s successful for Bonds, he’ll have beaten every charge thrown his way. At least as far as the law is concerned.

Latest Posts
  1. Picture of the Day: The Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium

    Dec 27, 2014, 5:20 PM EST

    B54kTRACcAA2Dhn

    Opening Day is 100 days away, but with the unusually mild weather in the New York area, they could really be playing some baseball right now.

  2. UPDATE: Starlin Castro free after being questioned about shooting in Dominican Republic

    Dec 27, 2014, 4:40 PM EST

    starlin castro getty Getty Images

    Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro was reportedly detained for questioning by authorities in the Dominican Republic on Saturday in connection with a nightclub shooting that injured six people.

  3. Before deciding on the Cubs, David Ross heard on the radio that he signed with the Padres

    Dec 27, 2014, 3:45 PM EST

    david ross

    David Ross recently took Rob Bradford of WEEI.com behind the scenes of how he landed a two-year, $5 million contract with the Cubs.

  4. Jake Peavy discusses his decision to stay with the Giants

    Dec 27, 2014, 11:01 AM EST

    peavy getty Getty Images

    The Giants finalized their new two-year, $24 million contract with Jake Peavy this week.

  5. Longtime Rangers clubhouse manager Joe Macko passes away at the age of 86

    Dec 27, 2014, 8:59 AM EST

    rangers logo

    Macko worked for the Rangers for over 40 years.

  6. A.J. Pierzynski to earn a $2 million base salary with the Braves

    Dec 26, 2014, 10:25 PM EST

    A.J. Pierzynski A.J. Pierzynski

    The Braves’ one-year deal with catcher A.J. Pierzynski is for $2 million.

  7. Rafael Furcal suffers torn hamstring, will miss Dominican Winter League playoffs

    Dec 26, 2014, 9:20 PM EST

    Rafael Furcal Rafael Furcal

    Rafael Furcal has suffered another injury, this time a torn hamstring which will keep him out of the Dominican Winter League playoffs.

  8. Report: Phillies nearing a deal with Wandy Rodriguez

    Dec 26, 2014, 8:03 PM EST

    Wandy Rodriguez Getty Images

    If Wandy Rodriguez passes his physical, the Phillies are expected to sign him to a minor league deal.

  9. Jeff Manship signed a minor league deal with the Indians

    Dec 26, 2014, 7:10 PM EST

    Carlos Ruiz, Jeff Manship Carlos Ruiz, Jeff Manship

    Jeff Manship will begin the spring with the Indians after signing a minor league deal.

  10. Giants may target Ben Zobrist

    Dec 26, 2014, 6:05 PM EST

    Ben Zobrist Getty Images

    According to Peter Gammons, some GMs think the Giants will eventually trade for Ben Zobrist.

  11. Report: Hiroki Kuroda is going back to Japan

    Dec 26, 2014, 3:49 PM EST

    Hiroki Kuroda Getty Images

    After seven years in the United States, Hiroki Kuroda is heading home.

  12. Nationals sign Dan Uggla

    Dec 26, 2014, 11:32 AM EST

    dan uggla getty Getty Images

    Uggla hit .179 in 2013 and .149 this year.

  13. Baseball in Uganda? Yes, baseball in Uganda.

    Dec 26, 2014, 11:00 AM EST

    Uganda tourism destinations

    And it’s all thanks to a man named George Mukhobe.

  14. Giants re-sign J.C. Gutierrez

    Dec 26, 2014, 10:30 AM EST

    Juan Gutierrez Giants AP

    He threw 64 innings with a 3.96 ERA and 44/16 K/BB ratio for the Giants in 2014.

  15. Padres season ticket sales have spiked in the wake of their offseason spending spree

    Dec 26, 2014, 9:35 AM EST

    padres logo

    Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.

  16. Chihiro Kaneko re-signs with Orix Buffaloes

    Dec 25, 2014, 3:05 PM EST

    kaneko getty Getty Images

    Japanese righty Chihiro Kaneko might have been one of the top starters on the open market this winter had he been posted by the Orix Buffaloes, his Nippon Professional Baseball team.

  17. 2015 Free Agent Tracker

    Dec 25, 2014, 1:23 PM EST

    Hanley Ramirez Hanley Ramirez

    Your one-stop shop for all of the offseason signings.

  18. Merry Christmas from HBT!

    Dec 25, 2014, 8:47 AM EST

    Screen Shot 2014-12-25 at 8.45.33 AM

    And a very special friend of HBT

  19. Tommy Lasorda reads “Twas the Night Before Christmas”

    Dec 24, 2014, 10:00 PM EST

    mlb video

    A good way to finish off our Christmas Eve coverage on HardballTalk …

Featured video

Cubs shore up rotation with Jon Lester
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. W. Myers (2207)
  2. D. Ross (2099)
  3. J. Kang (2081)
  4. C. Gonzalez (1977)
  5. J. Shields (1902)
  1. M. Scutaro (1887)
  2. J. Grilli (1849)
  3. D. Haren (1841)
  4. T. Tulowitzki (1784)
  5. S. Smith (1710)