Bonds appeals obstruction conviction

Bonds appeals obstruction conviction

Bonds appeals obstruction conviction
Barry Bonds' defense team filed a motion Wednesday asking Judge Susan Illston to either acquit him of obstruction of justice or grant him a new trial on that count. The motion will be heard July 1.

The 25-page motion filed with the U.S. District Court, Northern California District details the defense contention that Bonds should not have been found guilty of obstruction of justice based on the statement that led to the conviction.

The motion, which the defense promised to deliver at the end of the trial, will be heard by Illston in the same courtroom in which Bonds was tried in April.

Bonds, a seven-time Most Valuable Player whose conquests of the single-season and career home run records capped a 22-year career, was convicted of obstruction of justice on April 13. But the jury of eight women and four men could not come to a consensus on any of the three counts of making false declarations in relation to Bonds' 2003 testimony before the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) grand jury, in which he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

The documents filed by the defense Wednesday were prepared by attorney Dennis Riordan, himself a prominent appellate attorney. His role on the Bonds defense team has been to create motions such as these, while attorneys Allen Ruby and Cristina Arguedas examined witnesses and presented arguments to the jury.

Bonds was convicted on Count Five of the indictment, and specifically Statement C of four statements before the BALCO grand jury the government contended Bonds obstructed justice. Statement C involved questioning about whether Bonds ever allowed trainer Greg Anderson or anyone other than his physician to inject him with a needle. The government contended, and the jury agreed, that Bonds rambling about friendship and talking about being a celebrity child constituted an act of obstruction.

The defense motion contends, among other things, that Bonds wasn't being untruthful in his answers, and if he was being evasive or misleading then the prosecutor could have been more direct in his questioning or asked another question. Bonds did answer no to the question eventually, four times by the defense's count. The defense contends that because Statement C was not false, it did not rise to the level of obstruction.

The defense motion reads, in part: "The government concedes that 'Statement C,' the 'celebrity child' comment which resulted in the Count Five conviction, was not false. Rather, the government contends Statement C was unresponsive, and thus was evasive and illegal. But unauthorized rambling is not a federal crime. There is no legal authority for the proposition that truthful but 'evasive' statements, much less a single statement, can constitute obstruction of justice."

John Schlegel is a national reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.