A lawyer for Barry Bonds urged a federal appeals court on Wednesday to toss out the slugger’s obstruction of justice conviction, saying a rambling answer the ex-Giant gave while testifying before a grand jury was not a crime.
Appellate specialist Dennis Riordan argued that Bonds was not formally or specifically charged with the felony that he was convicted of committing. A federal jury in April 2011 found the all-time home run leader guilty of obstruction for saying he was a “celebrity child” when asked about injecting steroids.
Prosecutors asked Bonds during his 2003 grand jury appearance whether Greg Anderson, his personal trainer, ever gave 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 ...”
That particular exchange wasn’t included in the indictment originally released in November 2007. The omission is “the dagger in the heart of this conviction,” Riordan argued.
Riordan said Bonds ultimately answered the question when put to him again and denied receiving any substance to inject.
Judge Michael Daly Hawkins wondered aloud if Bonds’ direct denial undercut the government’s argument that Bonds intentionally misled the grand jury.
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.
Bonds and his legal team are asking a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss the felony conviction. If the conviction is upheld, he must serve 30 days of house arrest.