A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Friday upheld former Giants slugger Barry Bond’s obstruction of justice conviction stemming from his 2003 testimony to a grand jury investigating performance enhancing drug use among elite athletes.
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Bonds’ response to a question about whether his trainer, Greg Anderson, had ever given him any self-injectable substances was “evasive, misleading, and capable of influencing the grand jury to minimize the trainer’s role in the distribution of performance enhancing drugs.”
Bonds gave the testimony before a grand jury in December 2003 after prosecutors asked him whether Anderson had ever given him “anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?”
Bonds referred to his father, former major leaguer Bobby Bonds, when he responded “that’s what keeps our friendship. You know, I am sorry, but that — you know, that — I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a famous father. I just don’t get into other people’s business because of my father’s situation, you see …”
A federal jury in April 2011 found baseball’s all-time home runs leader guilty of obstruction as a result of that response.
That particular exchange wasn’t included in the indictment originally released in November 2007. During oral arguments before the appeals court, Bonds’ attorney argued that that omission was a “dagger in the heart” of Bonds’ conviction.
The attorney, Dennis Riordan, also said that Bonds ultimately answered the question when it was put to him again and he denied receiving any substance to inject.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Merry Jean Chan countered that the denial was a lie because Bonds’ former personal assistant, Cathy Hoskins, testified that she witnessed Anderson inject Bonds. Chan said Bonds’ denial and his other rambling answers to the same question throughout his grand jury appearance added up to obstruction.
Bonds is now facing 30-days’ home confinement as well as two years of probation, 250 hours of community service and a $4,000 fine.
Riordan couldn’t immediately be reached for comment early Friday on the court decision.