A federal judge refused to overturn the jury’s obstruction of justice conviction of baseball slugger Barry Bonds in the BALCO steroids scandal. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston also rejected his request for a new trial on the single count.
Illston rejected Bonds’ argument that the jury could not legally convict him of obstruction for giving evasive answers to a federal grand jury.
Illston found that Bonds’ conduct could constitute obstruction of justice as long as the government proved his testimony had the effect of impeding justice. She relied on a precedent from the Dallas-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
A federal jury convicted Bonds April 13, 2011 of a single count of obstruction of justice for his evasive responses to questions during a grand jury investigation of alleged distribution of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs to professional athletes.
The Bonds’ jury hung on three counts that Bonds lied to the grand jury.
In 2003, the federal grand jury began investigating allegations that the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative, BALCO, Victor Conte, the lab owner, and Greg Anderson, distributed steroids, human growth hormone and other performance enhancing drugs.
Individuals all eventually pled guilty to distribution of steroids and unapproved drugs, and money laundering.
Bonds testified under a grant of immunity from criminal prosecution, so long as he told the truth to the grand jury.
“The defendant repeatedly provided nonresponsive answers to questions abut whether Anderson had ever provided him with injectables, resulting in the prosecuting attorneys asking clarifying question after clarifying question, and even once resulting in one prosecutor interrupting another who was about to move on to a new topic in order to clarify defendant’s mixed responses,” Illston wrote.
Case: U.S. v. Bonds, CR07-732SI (N.Dist. of Calif.)