Barry Bonds Absolved of Obstruction Conviction

On Wednesday, April 22, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Barry Bonds’ conviction for obstruction of justice stemming from questionable testimony given in front of a grand jury in 2003 regarding the use and distribution of illegal steroids.

Bonds was summoned to testify before a grand jury in 2003 about his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs.  During the proceedings, Bonds was questioned for nearly three hours.  In 2007, he was charged with making false statements and obstructing justice.  Trial did not begin until March of 2011, which lasted three weeks and resulted in his conviction for obstructing justice.  When asked whether his trainer gave him anything requiring a syringe to inject himself with, Bonds replied “I’ve only had one doctor touch me.  And that’s my only personal doctor.”  The all-time home run leader then digressed into his familiarity with the trainer and growing up as a “celebrity child.”

Bonds clearly danced around the question and failed to address it directly, but the 9th Circuit reversed his conviction as the evidence was insufficient to show the statement was material to the government’s investigation.  The court seems to accept that witness examinations often contain non-responsive and irrelevant answers, not holding Bonds accountable for his.  One judge called it an “irrelevant, rambling statement made by a witness during the course of a grand jury investigation” and that it didn’t amount to obstruction.

Upon receiving the decision, Barry Bonds offered a statement:

“I am humbled and truly thankful for the outcome as well as the opportunity our judicial system affords to all individuals to seek justice … I am excited about what the future holds for me as I embark on the next chapter.”

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