The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has upheld an obstruction of justice conviction against former San Francisco Giants slugger and baseball home-run champion Barry Bonds. A three-judge panel rejected a long list of challenges to the 2011 conviction and said in its 19-page opinion “there was sufficient evidence to convict Bonds because his statement describing his life as a celebrity child — in response to a (grand jury) question asking whether his trainer ever gave him any self-injectable substances — was evasive, misleading, and capable of influencing the grand jury. …” (The full ruling is at the end of this post.)

From the report by Maura Dolan in the Los Angeles Times:

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that someone may be convicted of obstruction for making factually true statements if they are intended to mislead or evade.

During testimony in 2003 before a federal grand jury investigating the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs, the former San Francisco Giant and home run king was asked if his trainer ever provided him with substances that could be injected. Bonds gave a long-winded answer about being a celebrity child before he denied being given any such drug.

Bonds was tried in San Francisco in 2011 on charges of making false statements to a grand jury and obstruction. The jury was hung on three counts of false statements but convicted him on the obstruction charge, a felony.

Bonds appealed, arguing he could not be found guilty of a crime for giving a truthful, albeit meandering, statement.

The court said that Bonds’ statements about being the child of a famous baseball player “had nothing to do with the question” and was “at the very least misleading.”

USA v. Bonds


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke (Twitter: @danbrekke) has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at

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