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

Author

Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

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