Court Upholds Barry Bonds's Conviction

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last Friday that Barry Bonds obstructed justice when he ducked a question about steroid injections with an evasive and irrelevant answer.

A jury deadlocked in 2011 on three charges that he committed perjury when he denied ever knowingly using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs, but it convicted him of obstructing a grand jury investigation after a prosecutor had asked him whether his personal trainer had ever given him injectable drugs. Instead of answering yes or no, he testified about his celebrity childhood and his friendship with his trainer. He added, "I just don't get into other people's business."

Although prosecutors obtained a straight answer later during his testimony, the Ninth Circuit held that factually accurate testimony can be obstructive if it is intended to throw an investigation off course. The court said, "[Bonds's] statement served to divert the grand jury's attention from the relevant inquiry of the investigation, which was Anderson's and BALCO's distribution of steroids." Even if Bonds later answered the same question truthfully, he was properly convicted of trying to obstruct justice with his earlier testimony.

Read the opinion here.