Judge still mulling Bonds' obstruction conviction
A federal judge on Thursday declined to rule on home run record-holder Barry Bonds' request to toss out his obstruction of justice conviction.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston has been mulling the request since Bonds' lawyers filed legal papers June 15 arguing that jurors found the former slugger guilty of "unauthorized rambling" for discussing life as a "celebrity child" when asked whether his trainer ever gave him anything to inject.
After a 30-minute hearing in her San Francisco courtroom, Illston said she would issue a written order later. The judge gave no hint of her intentions.
Illston's only comments on the subject was that she agreed with prosecutors that she could consider all the evidence presented at Bonds' April trial to decide if he was being purposely evasive when asked the question before a grand jury in December 2003.
A jury convicted the seven-time MVP in April of obstructing the grand jury's investigation into sports doping. The jury couldn't unanimously agree on three other charges accusing him of perjury for denying that he ever knowingly took steroids, human growth hormone or received an injection from anyone other than his doctor.
Illston declared a mistrial on the three perjury charges and prosecutors are still deciding whether to retry Bonds on those counts.
A slimmed down and fit Bonds attended the hearing and left without comment. His lead lawyer, Allen Ruby, also declined to comment. Bonds' lawyers said immediately after the April verdict that they would appeal if Illston refused to toss out the conviction, ensuring the case survives into 2012. Bonds, Major League Baseball's career home runs leader, was originally indicted in 2007.
"The government is inventing a new criminal charge," said lawyer Dennis Riordan, who argued that since Bonds answered the question he shouldn't be charged with obstruction.
Riordan argued that Bonds ended up definitively answering the question about receiving injectables from his trainer "75 seconds" after delivering his rambling answer about being the son of former major leaguer Bobby Bonds.
"It takes a second to tell a lie," prosecutor Merry Chan said. "That doesn't amount to anything."
She said it was clear that Bonds' rambling answer was meant to mislead the grand jury. She also argued that Bonds denied receiving anything to inject despite evidence to the contrary.
The prosecutor argued that Bonds' statement, when taken in context of his entire grand jury testimony, was meant to purposely evade.