Bonds appeal in hands of judges
SAN FRANCISCO – Barry Bonds’ appeal of his felony obstruction of justice conviction will be heard by three federal judges who were each appointed by a different Democratic president.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday unveiled its February schedule, which showed publicly for the first time the three judges assigned to Bonds’ case.
Senior Circuit Judges Mary M. Schroeder and Michael Daly Hawkins along with Judge Mary H. Murguia will hear oral arguments Feb. 13.
Jimmy Carter appointed Schroeder in 1979. She wrote an opinion in 2010 upholding U.S. District Judge Susan Illston’s ruling to bar the testimony of former Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative executive James Valente from Bonds’ trial, which led to the exclusion of some BALCO records that the government maintained included positive drug tests.
Bonds, baseball’s career home run leader, was still convicted by a jury in 2011 that concluded he gave an “intentionally evasive, false or misleading” answer to a grand jury in 2003 when he was asked whether Greg Anderson, his personal trainer, ever gave him “anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?”
Bonds gave a rambling response during which he said “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.”
Bonds’ lawyers claim the answer was truthful, was not obstructive and that he answered the question later in his testimony. Federal prosecutors say the answer impeded the grand jury’s investigation into the illegal distribution of performance-enhancing drugs.
Bill Clinton appointed Hawkins in 1994. President Barack Obama appointed Murguia in 2010.
A section of Bonds’ appeal is based on a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case, Bronston v. U.S., that declared in a perjury case “a jury should not be permitted to engage in conjecture whether an unresponsive answer, true and complete on its face, was intended to mislead or divert.”
Bonds’ jury failed to reach a verdict on three counts of making false statements, which accused him of lying when he denied taking steroids given to him by Anderson, denied receiving human growth hormone from Anderson and said only physicians injected him. Illston declared a mistrial on those counts, and the government then dismissed them.
Illston sentenced Bonds to 30 days house arrest, two years of probation, 250 hours of community service in youth-related activities and a $4,000 fine. She delayed the sentence pending the appeal.