Lawyers for Barry Bonds told an appeals court that the former San Francisco Giants outfielder’s conviction for obstruction of justice in the government’s probe of steroid use should be overturned.
Bonds, Major League Baseball’s career home-run record holder, argued in a court filing yesterday with the San Francisco-based appeals court that he was convicted of a felony that he wasn’t charged with. Instead, he was convicted for making a “truthful albeit rambling and irrelevant statement under oath,” according to the filing.
The government’s case, based on an attempt to combat steroid use in sports, “while admirable in its underlying purpose, has been pursued with an intensity at times bordering on zealotry,” lawyers for Bonds claimed in the filing. No court has ever found a “truthful statement to constitute an obstruction of justice.”
Bonds was found guilty of obstruction last year for what prosecutors called his evasive response in 2003 before a federal grand jury. Asked if his trainer, Greg Anderson, ever gave him anything that required a syringe for injection, Bonds didn’t immediately say yes or no. In a 146-word response, he spoke about being a “celebrity child” who didn’t “get into other people’s business.” In the end, he answered, “No.”
The former San Francisco Giants outfielder was sentenced to probation instead of prison time in December and was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to spend 30 days in home confinement with a location monitoring device, pay a $4,000 fine and serve 250 hours of community service.
Jack Gillund, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag in San Francisco, declined to comment.
The case is U.S. v. Bonds, 11-10669, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco).