Fallout from the Barry Bonds’ verdict

Home run king Barry Bonds smiles as his lawyer Alan Ruby speaks to the media at the Federal Building in San Francisco on April 13, 2011 A jury convicted Bonds on obstruction of justice charges but hung on the perjury charges . UPI/Terry Schmitt

Here’s what columnists around the country are saying about the Barry Bonds’ guilty verdict.

Judging Bonds Has Only Just Begun (Tyler Kepner, New York Times)
Barry Bonds’s statistics cannot be erased. Bonds did not get away with his actions in federal court, where he was convicted of a count of obstruction of justice Wednesday. But in his era Bonds was allowed to stay on the field and hit 762 home runs and win seven Most Valuable Player awards. Fans can judge those accomplishments however they want, but they did happen, and they are as historically valid as the 714 homers Babe Ruth hit without ever facing an African-American pitcher. Commissioner Bud Selig said Tuesday that he had already studied the integrity of baseball’s records, with help from Jerome Holtzman, the Chicago writer who was baseball’s official historian.

Exploring the sheer absurdity of the Bonds verdict (Craig Calcaterra, Hardball Talk)
Having slept on it, here’s one more thought about the Bonds verdict that simply blows my mind. Yesterday when I reacted to the verdict, I noted the absurdity of Bonds being convicted on his rambling answer in “Statement C” as listed in Count 5 of the indictment. That “Statement C” was Bonds saying, in response to a question about receiving injections, that Greg Anderson was a friend of his and that Bonds was a child of a celebrity. It was four brief beside-the-point statements. And, importantly, Bonds did eventually say unequivocally that, no, he didn’t receive injections. Take that for what it’s worth, but it was a clear answer to a clear question.

Bonds’ Legal “Dream Team” Loses Big (Randy Shaw, BeyondChron)
After Greg Anderson refused to testify and the trial judge excluded key evidence, few gave the U.S. Attorney’s office much of a chance to convict Barry Bonds on any of the charges. Add to this the high-cost legal dream team working for Bonds—which included such criminal defense superstars as Alan Ruby, Chris Arguedas, and Dennis Riordan—-and the question was not whether if Bonds would be acquitted, but how long the jury would deliberate. Well, jurors often surprise with their common sense. They saw Bonds the way the general public does, and convicted him of obstruction and came within a single holdout juror of a perjury conviction. If anyone is feeling sorry for Bonds, they aren’t talking about it.

In the end, Barry Bonds hurt himself (Lester Munson, ESPN)
The unanimous verdict that Bonds was guilty of obstruction of justice is a major triumph for federal agent Jeff Novitzky and prosecutors Jeff Nedrow and Matthew Parrella. It is also a bit of an upset. The members of the federal team started the trial with two strikes against them. Greg Anderson, Bonds’ personal trainer, refused to testify for the government. If he had testified, its case against Bonds likely would have been overwhelming. But his refusal to testify and his willingness to go to jail to help Bonds left Novitzky and the prosecutors with major obstacles. Without Anderson to identify the positive drug tests, the drug calendars, the syringes and the vials of steroids that the Novitzky-led agents had seized in their lightning raid on Anderson’s house, a powerful case for the prosecutors became a difficult, almost impossible case.

Confused Verdict Means Bonds Will Walk (Jeff Neuman, Real Clear Sports)
The government agreed in the case that the instructions to the jury for the obstruction charge would indicate that it must “agree unanimously as to which statement or statements constitute obstruction of justice.” This is essential if the verdict is to be truly unanimous; if six jurors believe one statement to be an obstruction, while the other six select a different statement, they are not in unanimous agreement. (I am grateful to the legal blogger Jack Townsend for this explanation; his blog often features clear writing and thinking on otherwise impenetrable subjects.) So if the jury couldn’t come to a unanimous vote on any of the perjury counts, on what basis did it reach its conclusion about obstruction of justice? The verdict reeks of compromise, especially with jurors acknowledging that the deadlock on the perjury charge about injections involved an 11-1 vote favoring conviction.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Barry Bonds found guilty of obstruction of justice, jury hung on other three counts

Former San Francisco Giants baseball player Barry Bonds arrives at the Phillip Burton Federal Building for his perjury trial as jurors resume deliberation in San Francisco, California April 11, 2011. The former home run king, Bonds, is facing four charges for allegedly lying under oath to a federal grand jury in 2003 about the use of performing-enhancing anabolic steroids. REUTERS/Stephen Lam (UNITED STATES – Tags: CRIME LAW SPORT BASEBALL SOCIETY)

A jury found Barry Bonds guilty of one federal charge of obstruction of justice, but a mistrial was declared on the remaining three counts of making false declarations to a grand jury. It’s unclear as of this writing whether there will be another trial to settle those remaining counts.

According to ESPN.com, Bonds sat “stone-faced” through the verdict, displaying no emotion. His legal team then asked that the guilty verdict be thrown out, although U.S. District Judge Susan Illston did not rule on that request. A hearing for that case will be held on May 20.

The question I have is how can the jury believe that Bonds was guilty of obstruction of justice but unsure that he lied under oath about taking steroids, taking HGH and/or receiving injections of any kind? I’m not a lawyer and my intelligence is questionable at best, but how can you nail him on obstruction of justice but not on the three perjury charges of lying to a grand jury? It seems like if you can nail him on that, you can nail him on anything.

Then again, maybe the jury believes that he’s lying about something, so they nail him on obstruction of justice. But they can’t prove that he’s lying specifically about taking steroids, HGH and/or being injected with anything, so that’s where the hung in “hung jury” comes in.

Either way, it feels like a large amount of the taxpayers’ money just went flying out the window. Was justice served here? Did Barry Bonds “get what was coming to him” like some wanted? Does anyone even care anymore?

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: The biggest punishment that this guy will ever endure is not being allowed induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Related Posts