Bonds' appeal of obstruction charge begins in S.F.

Bonds' legal team in court to start appeals process

Bonds' appeal of obstruction charge begins in S.F.
February 13, 2013, 12:45 pm

Attorney Dennis Riordan said Barry Bonds testified for 2-1/2 hours and was never obstructive in his 2003 testimony. (AP)

He answered that question three times directly. How could that be obstructive of justice? How could that be an evasive answer?
—Barry Bonds' attorney, Dennis Riordan
A defendant can essentially cure his evasion. If he goes and directly answers the question but he has to answer it truthfully.
—U.S. Attorney Merry Jean Chan

SAN FRANCISCO -- Today's federal court hearing for Barry Bonds' appeal of his obstruction of justice charge lasted 40 minutes. Bonds' attorney, Dennis Riordan, says his client did not lie to a grand jury back in 2003. However, an attorney for the U.S. government says Bonds made statements that were false, evasive and misleading.

U.S. Attorney Merry Jean Chan:

"A defendant can essentially cure his evasion. If he goes and directly answers the question but he has to answer it truthfully. And that's the premise, that's the assumption the defense wants you to make that what he answered was truthful. The Jury rejected that. The District court found specific evidence to support that it was false."

Bonds' attorney, Dennis Riordan offered this:

“This is a critical thing here, he was asked the question, 'did you self inject?' He could have gone outside for 15 minutes to talk to his lawyers. During those 15 minutes he answered that question three times directly. How could that be obstructive of justice? How could that be an evasive answer?"

Chan says nine years ago, Bonds lied to the grand jury to protect his friend, trainer and alleged steroid supplier Greg Anderson. She says his denial of knowledge is an example of obstruction of justice. 

Prosecutors asked Bonds during his 2003 grand jury appearance whether Anderson ever gave him "anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?"

Bonds referred to his father, former major leaguer Bobby Bonds, when he responded "that's what keeps our friendship. You know, I am sorry, but that - you know, that - I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. 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, you see ..."

But Riordan says on December 4th of 2003, Bonds was honest during the grand jury investigation. He says Bonds testified for two-and-one-half hours and was never obstructive in his testimony.

There's no timetable for when the three ninth circuit judges will announce their decision. Both lawyers declined to speculate on how the judges might rule. The former Giant watched the hearing on TV, but preferred to attend court.

Riordan: 

"He very much wanted to be in the courtroom today. And we eventually concluded, for the sake of reason discourse which you saw today. His presence would probably distract from the proceedings themselves."

If Bonds' conviction is upheld, he will have to serve 30 days house arrest.

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

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