Barry Bonds’ legal ordeal will come to a close when the former slugger is sentenced for obstruction of justice in the upcoming months. In the end, Bonds was convicted of one count of obstruction by a San Francisco jury in April, one of four charges that were levied against him.
The jury hung on three counts of perjury related to his testimony in 2003 that was occurred before a grand jury that was investigating the BALCO labs and its distribution of illegal drugs and steroids.
Bonds attorneys asked Susan Ilston, the trial judge, to either set aside the conviction or order a re-trial on the matter. This was based on the assertion of his defense team that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient for a jury to find against him. The judge refused the requests and will sentence the slugger on December 16, 2011.
The prosecution team was stunned by the jury’s rebuke of its attempts to prove that Bonds lied under oath regarding knowingly using steroids or HGH obtained from BALCO and had considered retrying Bonds on the three perjury counts. But they announced earlier this week that they will not do so while reserving their right to reconsider until the final date available to them at the end of September.
The time and expense of another trial was taken into consideration and the feds came to the conclusion that the almost decade-long BALCO matter should finally end.
Perhaps the most embarrassing part of the trial was when Bonds’ mistress went on the stand and talked about hair loss and testicle shrinkage.
Bonds is the final individual to be involved in and complete the legal process stemming from that BALCO investigation. He is the only the third person that decided to take his matter to trial rather than admit guilt and take a plea deal.
In earlier trials, track coach Trevor Graham and Olympic cyclist Tammy Thomas were convicted of lying under oath and Judge Ilston didn’t impose a prison sentence on either defendant although sentencing guidelines would have allowed her to do that.
The same is expected to happen to Bonds but the prosecutors will be sure to argue and plea for jail time. Graham and Thomas’ sentences included time under house arrest.
Each side has claimed victory and vindication in this Bonds fiasco, with Bonds team saying that he was not convicted of lying while the prosecution stressed he is now a convicted felon.
In truth, neither won much but both lost a bundle; of time, energy and money. The federal prosecution of Bonds was costly in terms of money as well as staffing and Bonds never truly cleared the name he sought to protect when he stonewalled during his grand jury testimony.
What’s remains though, is the stench on MLB and the game of baseball and the cloud over several athletes, including Bonds, who may never reach their sport’s hall of fame as a result of what occurred during the steroids era.
Used with permission of the author.
Paula Duffy is a national sports columnist for Examiner.com and the Huffington Post and regularly comments on sports/legal matters for radio affiliates of ESPN and Fox Sports. She founded the sports information site, Incidental Contact, is the author of a line of audio books designed for sports novices and in her spare time practices law in Los Angeles.
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