Barry Bonds' perjury case begins on Mar. 2
and will run for an estimated four weeks.
After more than five years and the expenditure of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, it’s show time for the government. The case known as the United States of America vs. Barry Lamar Bonds is coming to San Francisco on March 2 for what is estimated to be a four week run.
The feds will attempt to prove that Bonds committed perjury when he testified before a federal grand jury in December 2003 that he did not knowingly use steroids. In layman’s terms, perjury is lying under oath about a material fact when you know your statement is false.
Under questioning by prosecutors, Bonds admitted using two substances – the Cream and the Clear – that he later determined to be steroids. But he said he didn’t know they were steroids at the time he used them. Bonds insisted he thought his former trainer, Greg Anderson, gave him flaxseed oil and an arthritis balm to alleviate the aches and pains that come with the daily grind of playing professional baseball.
Most Americans, save, hopefully, the members of the jury who will hear evidence in the case and determine Bonds’ guilt or innocence, have made up their minds about Bonds. And polls suggest that in the court of public opinion, Bonds is guilty as charged. But fortunately for him, not to mention the rest of us, our system of justice requires that the government prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. And by all accounts, the government will have its work cut out for it. The case is more porous than the Yankees 2008 defense.
Judge Susan Illston’s pre-trial rulings have generally favored Bonds. The most recent government setback came last week when Judge Illston refused to allow evidence of three positive steroid tests and documents alleged to be doping calendars. Prosecutors will be allowed to enter evidence of one positive test, taken on a sample from the infamous 2003 survey testing of MLB players, the same test that tripped up A-Rod.
Those test results were supposed to be confidential and the samples destroyed. But the union, for some inexplicable reason save incompetence, failed to dispose of the evidence before the government seized it in a raid on several testing facilities in conjunction with the BALCO investigation.
The key to the government’s case against Bonds is and always has been Anderson. The trainer was among the BALCO defendants who plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute steroids and spent three months in prison. Upon his release, he was paraded before a grand jury investigating Bonds and refused to testify. He was sent back to prison on two separate occasions and served an additional year behind bars.
The feds tried to procure Anderson’s testimony by putting pressure on his wife and mother-in-law, threatening each with tax charges and staging a raid on the mother-in-law’s house. Prosecutors are determined to call Anderson as a witness against Bonds. But Anderson’s attorneys say he will never rat on Bonds and Judge Illston is on record as being loath to find him in contempt a third time.
Prosecutors intend to call several witnesses who claim Bonds discussed his use of steroids with them and another witness who claims she watched Anderson inject Bonds, with what, no one knows. Most of the witnesses are a defense attorney’s dream, including a jilted mistress and individuals who themselves engaged in criminal activity.
Judge Illston will allow the government to enter expert testimony concerning the effects steroid use can have on the male body, including back acne and shrunken testicles. The government’s only witness on the condition of Bonds’ private parts is his former mistress, Kimberly Bell, who seems all too eager to confirm the expert’s testimony as it relates to Bonds. This won’t be a trial so much as a pilot for a reality show on Fox.
The government is unlikely to prevail against Bonds, in spite of their vast resources and huge expenditures in time and money. Even if Bonds is convicted, Judge Illston is likely to give him probation instead of jail time. Regardless of the trial’s outcome, we all lose.
In comparison, the government throwing hundreds of billions of dollars at banks and auto companies doesn’t seem like such a bad deal.
FOR MORE ON THE BONDS CASE READ:
Jordan Kobritz is a regular contributor to the Business of Sports Network. He is a former attorney, CPA, and Minor League Baseball team owner. He is an Assistant Professor of Sport Management at Eastern New Mexico University and teaches the Business of Sports at the University of Wyoming. Jordan can be reached at \n