Federal Court Reverses Barry Bonds Obstruction Conviction

Barry Bonds
The Associated Press

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Barry Bonds’s obstruction of justice conviction on Wednesday.

In 2011, a jury convicted Bonds for giving, in the words of today’s ruling, what was “a rambling, non-responsive answer to a simple question” in 2003.

When asked if trainer Greg Anderson ever gave him anything to inject himself with, Bonds discussed being a “celebrity child” and other matters seemingly extraneous to the question. The circuitous answer to a grand jury question led to the conviction eight years later.

The initial case involved the 7-time MVP and baseball’s single-season and all-time home run leader’s relationship with the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO). The group’s founder, Victor Conte, served a prison sentence for his role in distributing performance-enhancing drugs.

The San Francisco-based federal court deemed the prosecution of Bonds imprudent. The 9th Circuit Court’s reversal (PDF) contended on Wednesday, “Making everyone who participates in our justice system a potential criminal defendant for conduct that is nothing more than the ordinary tug and pull of litigation risks chilling zealous advocacy.”