Bonds Verdict: Guilty of Obstruction . . . For Now, At Least

As almost everyone is aware, I'm sure, the Bonds jury did what juries regularly do . . . spun off in a weird direction not anticipated by the lawyers, the pundits, or anybody else. Acquitted on all three remaining perjury counts:

(1) I never knowingly got steroids from Anderson (supposedly hung 8-4 for acquittal)

(2) Nobody stuck me with a needle other than a doctor (supposedly hung 11-1 for conviction with one holdout who didn't completely believe Kathy Hoskins' testimony that she saw Bonds get stuck by Anderson)

(3) Never knowingly got growth hormone from Anderson (supposedly hung 9-3 for acquittal).

But convicted on obstruction of justice.

Credit Mark Fainaru-Wada of ESPN for the reporting on the voting results--that is not an official part of the trial record.

Now here's the rub for those who would like this to be over. The jury got what is called a special verdict form where they have to specify WHY they are finding him guilty of obstruction. There were seven statements cited as obstruction; four in addition to the three perjury statements. The jurors were probably told in the jury instructions that checking one box yields a conviction. But this is the statement for the box they checked:

6. Statement C:

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


The defense will move on this count for JNOV--for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. They have to show that no reasonable jury could have convicted on this count based on the evidence. And while this is normally an incredibly difficult standard, I think here Judge Ilston will have little choice but to grant the motion. Standing by itself, Bonds' statement here is a rambling non-response to the question. But is is CRIMINALLY false, misleading, or evasive? Can't see it being proven false, as there was no evidence in the record that Bonds was given materials TO INJECT HIMSELF. So criminally misleading and evasive in a material way? I just don't see that standing. If the lawyer thought the question wasn't answered, than the lawyer could have re-asked the question.

And so after a couple of months more of post-trial briefing, the conviction likely will be thrown out by Judge Ilston. Or at the very least will be the subject of a lengthy appeal to the Ninth Circuit. And the feds will have to decide if they want to re-try the perjury counts on which the jury hung.

There is no joy in Mudville . . . the justice system has struck out.

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