Barry Bonds Guilty of Obstruction of Justice but Not Perjury? Wait, What?

Brandon McClintock@@BMcClintock_BSNCorrespondent IApril 14, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 12:  Former Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds (R) arrives at federal court on April 12, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  The jury is deliberating for the third day in the Barry Bonds perjury trial where the former baseball player is accused of lying to a grand jury about the use of performance enhancing drugs.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

After eight years of building a case against Barry Bonds and millions of dollars spent to prosecute baseball's all time home run king, the government finally got their guilty conviction today. Surprisingly though, the jury convicted Bonds of obstruction of justice, but could not reach a unanimous decision on perjury charges.

Wait a minute, I'm confused.

Let's avoid the fact that the evidence against Bonds, as well any small amount of common sense, clearly points to the assumption that Bonds definitely perjured himself by claiming he was not aware that the substances he received and used were steroids.

Bonds was being charged with obstruction of justice because of his supposed perjury in the grand jury testimony against BALCO in 2003. There were no other allegations of Bonds obstructing justice in the BALCO hearings. The government secured convictions against all of their targets in that case.

If he could not be convicted of perjury, how could he be guilty of obstruction of justice?

It seems to me that if you are going to reasonably conclude that Bonds obstructed justice with his testimony, then you also must reasonably conclude that he lied about receiving injections from Greg Anderson, and lied about knowing the substances he was receiving were in fact steroids.

The obstruction charge was reportedly secured because the jury believed he was evasive in only one of his comments to the grand jury, a statement in which Bonds explained his friendship with Greg Anderson, but avoided the question of whether Anderson had supplied him with a syringe to inject himself.

SBNation's David Fucillo provided the exact statement that was called into question:

"Q: Did Greg ever give you anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?

A: 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…"

Perhaps there were followup questions seeking clarification that I am not aware of, but if not then how can this singular statement be considered obstruction of justice? It was a roundabout way of answering meant to avoid the question, but you could reasonably come to the conclusion that by saying "I don't talk about his business," Bonds was indirectly stating that he did not talk to Anderson about steroids and therefore did not receive syringes from Anderson. Question answered, obviously not in the minds of the jury however.

The remaining three charges against Bonds ended in a mistrial. According to the jurors voted 8-4 in favor of acquitting Bonds of lying about steroids, 9-3 in favor of acquittal on the charge of lying about HGH use, and 11-1 in favor of convicting Bonds of lying about receiving an injection from another person other than a doctor.

Bonds' legal team is seeking for the guilty verdict to be thrown out by Judge Illston. She set another hearing scheduled for May 20 to hear arguments in that case. Meanwhile, the prosecution must decide if they will seek to retry Bonds on the additional three counts that ended in mistrial.

PLEASE just let it end here. I fully understand that perjury is breaking the law, but as I previously stated, this is a colossal waste of time and money.

John Mitchell Jackson, Senior Litigation Partner with Jackson and Wilson, Inc. stated it perfectly:

"In many instances, prosecutorial ego and long-term legal/political goals outweigh the law and commons sense...

Rather than prosecuting Barry Bonds, the money should have been used to investigate and prosecute criminals who cause harm to our citizens. It should have been used to provide much needed funding to our public schools. This money should have been allocated to helping repair and improve our deteriorating roadways and buildings. The money should have been used for the good of all Americans instead of supporting the inflated egos of governmental prosecutors with long-term political motives...

To waste $55M on these issues confirms that some Americans have lost track of common sense and the value of a dollar...

It's time for Americans to step back and take a deep breath before wasting our limited resources on truly insignificant things and issues like those involved in the Bonds' case."

Well said Mr. Jackson!

The trial did absolutely nothing to change the public perception of Barry Bonds. His accomplishments within the game of baseball are still tainted, but also remain in the record books.

It's time for the government to move on.

Do not waste any further time attempting to convict Bonds of perjury, it doesn't matter.

Do not waste any further government resources on steroid perjury trials. Drop the trial against Roger Clemens; like Bonds, he has already been convicted in the minds of the public, and his legacy is forever tainted.

Enough is enough, and in this case the obstruction conviction (whether it stands or not) needs to be enough.

Brandon McClintock covers Major League Baseball for You can follow Brandon on twitter  @BMcClintock_BR.


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