Barry Bonds Indicted in Classic Grand Jury Trap

Barry Bonds faces a classic grand jury trap indictment. One of the reason that many defense attorneys tell their clients not to testify in a grand jury is that it is so easy to be indicted for any answer deemed false or misleading. Indeed, none of the rule of evidence apply and you are not allowed defense counsel to be present in the room with you (though you may ask to leave the room to speak with counsel – a difficult thing for most people to do).

For Bonds, the issue was simple. By denying use of steriods in the December 2003 testimony before a grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO., he put himself at the mercy of the prosecutors if they assembled any evidence to the contrary — which he knew they had. In this case, they are citing 19 such statements.

He is now indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice after a four-year investigation into steroid use by elite athletes.

The four counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice could bring a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. That breaks down to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of three perjury charges. The obstruction charge comes with up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine for an obstruction of justice charge. First offenders are sentenced generally at the lower end of the guidelines range.

Perjury and obstruction charges are notoriously easy to prove with a modicum of evidence. Yet, this is a case where Bonds may have to put himself at further risk, now that he took the critical step in the grand jury. These cases routinely go against a defendant who does not testify. This would put Bonds at even more risk of contradiction and a grueling cross-examination — but the alternative may be worse. The jury tends to expect someone to testify when the government calls him a liar over and over as he sits there in court.

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3 thoughts on “Barry Bonds Indicted in Classic Grand Jury Trap”

  1. Only that Libby is an example of how this turns on credibility. Libby had a plausible claim that the facts became murky in his mind given the length of time. Bonds will have to take different approach: he must insist that he spoke truthfully not just mistakingly. Thus, the trial will have more a science aspect as Bonds proves the negative: that he did not take these drugs.

  2. Please expalin what are the similarities between bonds and scooter libby with regards to perjury and obstruction of justice?

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