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Unsealing of BALCO Documents Signals Weakness in Case Against Barry Bonds PDF Print E-mail
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Articles & Opinion
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 28 November 2008 12:10

Barry Bonds

With the unsealing of BALCO documents,
Bonds' lawyers can contend that he is
being singled out for prosecution.

With the wave of a pen on Weds., U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston approved a request of federal prosecutors and with that, the grand jury documents in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) case were unsealed.

Yes, you read this correctly. The request was made of the government, not the press.

With millions of dollars being spent in pursuit of Barry Bonds, federal prosecutors have done an about-face.

Somewhere, Game of Shadows authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams are either laughing or crying. If not for attorney Troy Ellerman’s overzealousness (Ellerman plead guilty to leaking information, and lying to prosecutors in 2007), the two authors would be in jail for not revealing who their source was for the leaked BALCO material in Shadows.

For three years, the case against Barry Bonds has lingered on. Who knows how many millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent in trying to convict Bonds on perjury charges saying he lied before the grand jury?

And the case continues to languish on.

The unsealing of transcripts, medical lab reports and search warrant affidavits with Bonds’ lawyers shows the weakness in the case, if it wasn’t viewed as weak before.

Lawyers for the prosecution made the request to avoid “ambiguity” in making documents available to Bonds’ lawyers. While being unsealed, the documents are not being released to the public.

The unsealing of the documents to Bonds’ lawyers outlines the weakness in the prosecution’s case.

With the unsealing, Bonds’ lawyers will information regarding Bonds, but also Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Benito Santiago, Jeremy Giambi, Bobby Estalella, and Armando Rios.

The defense can then argue that Bonds should not be singled out – that other MLB players are being given a pass while Bonds, the all-time home run leader, is being targeted as a “trophy”, someone that feds can brag about convicting, if they were so lucky to pull it off.

But, even if Bonds were convicted, it may be no more than a symbolic victory for the feds.

With Olympic cyclist Tammy Thomas avoiding jail time for lying to the grand jury, it is very possible that Bonds would receive much the same; a blow to government.

The unsealing of the BALCO documents should allow the March 2009 trial date for Bonds to proceed. At that point, it may be the beginning of the end for one of the most protracted government cases against a professional athlete in U.S. history.


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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