Thursday, April 14, 2011

No perjury conviction for Bonds

I have defended Barry Bonds, and now he has been convicted:
Home-run king Barry Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice for impeding a grand jury investigation into illegal steroid distribution, closing a sordid chapter in a scandal that ensnared some of baseball's greatest players.

The verdict Wednesday against the former San Francisco Giants star capped a nearly seven-year probe that focused on Bonds' denials under oath about knowingly using performance enhancing drugs. ...

The jury of eight women and four men, which began deliberating Friday morning, also deadlocked on three counts of perjury. ...

Jurors said they concluded that Bonds had been evasive before the grand jury, but they disagreed on whether he had lied to the panel about knowingly using steroids or human growth hormones.
So assuming we respect the jury verdict, we do not know that Bonds ever took steroids, or that he ever lied about it. All we know is that he was evasive, whatever that means, and that a 7-year multi-million prosecution failed to prove that he lied about anything.

Another report said:
The essence of the case against Bonds, the record-holder for home runs in a career (762) and in a season (73), is that he lied to a grand jury in 2003 regarding the use of anabolic steroids and the fact that he’d gotten injections from someone other than his doctors. ...

“I think it will be seen by most people as affirming that Bonds was cheating and using steroids,” former Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent told Bloomberg News.
These comments are irresponsible. Some of us believe in innocence until proven guilty. A failed prosecution should be seen as innocence, not guilt. And the more time and money spent by the feds, the more Bonds should be seen as the victim of a faulty witchhunt.

I don't even see how the obstruction conviction should stand. If Bonds did not lie, and he did not interfere with the prosecution of BALCO and others, then where is the obstruction? It makes no sense to me. The feds could retry him on the perjury charges, but I think that they ought to cut their losses. They have no legitimate interest in keeping him out of the baseball hall of fame.

Update: Apparently this is the actual transcript of the testimony used to convict Bonds of obstruction:
Q: Did Greg ever give you anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?

Bonds: 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? ...

Q: Right.

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 ...
The jury foreman said that this was a BS answer, and I guess it was, but I fail to see how it obstructed any justice. Bonds was explaining his relationship with Greg Anderson, and that seemed to be of interest to the district attorney. If the attorney needed additional info, then he should have specifically asked for it. Bonds has no way of knowing what the attorney needs. Anderson and the BALCO officials were convicted, and I really don't see how this answer could have hindered that prosecution.

I have been a witness when the attorney was dissatisfied with my answer for some reason. When that happens, he repeats or rephrases the question. Always. Sometimes I have missed the point of the questions. Most witnesses do. It appears to me that the attorney did a sloppy job, and Bonds is being blamed for it.

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