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Barry Bonds Indictment A Waste Of Time


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It's generally agreed that Barry Bonds is not a very likeable guy, and that his body clearly shows the effects of steroid use, but the recent indictment for lying to a grand jury 4 years ago should raise concerns among anybody who cares about due process. Why did the government wait 4 years to indict the man? Why not let baseball enforce its steroid rules first, and then see if a federal investigation is warranted?

A columnist for sfgate.com says it better than I can:

 

 

Federal prosecutors on steroids

Debra J. Saunders

 

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

 

I don't know enough about baseball to rail about what an arrogant lout Barry Bonds is, as so many others in the news biz do. I don't follow baseball. I'm no fan. Still I am appalled at last week's federal indictment of Bonds on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. Of course, lying to federal authorities is wrong and poisonous to the criminal justice system, if Bonds lied. As for steroids, if Bonds took them - and who thinks he didn't? - he has devalued his home-run record and must live the rest of his life wondering if his body will break down because of his ambition.

 

My beef? I admire tenacious no-holds-barred prosecutors - when they go after violent thugs, mobsters and would-be terrorists. The U.S. Department of Justice, however, has gone overboard in wielding its awesome might for years - acting on a tip received in August 2002 - to prolong a case it could have wrapped up long ago. The feds have crossed the line from closing a righteous case to prosecutorial overkill.

 

The charges against Bonds concern grand-jury testimony four years ago, on Dec. 4, 2003. Under grant of immunity (unless he lied), Bonds asserted that he never knowingly used banned steroids. He said he thought his personal trainer was treating him with flaxseed oil and arthritis balm.

 

As the Chronicle's Lance Williams reported, prosecutors say they have a "mountain of evidence" - including doping calendars showing Bonds' drug regimen and payments seized in raids in September 2003. The indictment claims that Bonds tested positive for two anabolic steroids.

 

Which raises the big question: Why did the U.S. attorney take another four years to indict?

 

If their case is so strong, what were they waiting for?

 

Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson pleaded guilty to steroid dealing and served three months in prison. Afterward, when Anderson refused to testify against Bonds, a federal judge found him in contempt and sent Anderson behind bars. Anderson's attorney says that he is not cooperating with the authorities but he was released last week.

 

In March 2005, Bonds' former girlfriend Kimberly Bell testified that the slugger told her that he had taken banned steroids. Still, the feds did not move for two years.

 

Last year, Williams and then-Chronicle reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada lived under a cloud after they refused a federal judge's order to reveal the confidential sources of stories they had written on the BALCO steroids scandal. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White held them in contempt and ordered them imprisoned for up to 18 months. White stayed the sentence pending appeal, then lifted it after Troy Ellerman, a former defense lawyer in the BALCO case, admitted to leaking the grand-jury transcripts. He was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison.

 

The longest sentence served by any BALCO defendant was four months. Anderson served more time for not testifying against Bonds than he served for dealing designer steroids. You would think that not helping prosecutors is the bigger crime.

 

Joe Russoniello was nominated to become Northern California's U.S. attorney on Thursday. Attorney General Michael Mukasey assumed his post this month. They've both inherited this headache.

 

If prosecutors manage to win a guilty verdict, Bonds no doubt will have earned it.

 

But I have to ask if this entire exercise was worth the price - was worth sending Anderson to prison to serve more time than any BALCO sentence.

 

I have to question how federal prosecutors work - extending a case for four years (during which Bonds broke the home-run record) when they say they had mountains of physical evidence.

 

If they consider perjury to be a threat to the system - why wait years to go after a man whom so many observers believe lied to a grand jury? Doesn't that undermine the system's credibility too?

 

And I wonder why the feds have put so much energy into this case, when there are so many truly dangerous criminals out there.

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I have to disagree with this one completely. What does this have to due with "due process?" The Grand Jury process played out and indictments were issued at the end of it. Sometimes investigations take time. I can imagine that if Bonds had been indicted at the beginning of the process some would have cried about a "rush to judgment."

 

This has nothing to do with MLB's steroids investigation. This is a federal, criminial probe. The two are completely different. Baseball can do whatever it wants but the federal governement has a vested interest in seeing that the grand jury process is fair and free from people who perjure themselves in front of it. That is what Bonds is accused of. The steroids problem is a separate issue.

 

We'll see how it plays out.

 

Mark

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The evidence that the government has in this case is four years old. The defendant has a constitutional right to a speedy trial, so why wait for four years to indict him? If that's not a violation of due process, it sure is unfair to leave someone hanging like that with an indictment over his head. Why should the government be allowed to do that? They were simply waiting, hoping some better evidence might turn up. It didn't.

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Guest Wetnwildbear

I agree about Bond's right to a speedy trial.

 

What I cannot fathom is why (the then Republican) Congress wasted

 

time and taxpayer dollars

 

to investigate the issue of Steroid use in MLB.

 

And why is the Federal Government continuing to waste time and money

 

on this issue?

 

If the government is short of things to investigate and ways to spend

 

money allow me to suggest a few which just might be a smidge more

 

important than over-the-hill sandlot sluggers shooting steroids in an

 

attempt to hang onto their misspent youth

 

1) Global Warming

2) Alternative Energy Sources

3) Drinking Water Management and Protection (Ask the Folks in Georgia)

4) Prescription Drug Prices and Lack of Health Care

5) Our Crumbling National Infrastructure i.e. Electric Grid, bridges,

public transit, dams,highways, public schools, etc.

6) Food Safety

ETC

 

As long as they are not sharing needles - I don't care what Baseball

 

players shoot!

 

I am always amazed at what Republicans in goverment fixate upon.

 

They want to shrink the size of government till its small enough

 

to fit into your bedroom, your body and now the lockerroom.

 

 

 

<Sighs> I feel much better now - I have not ranted in ages!

 

Thanks

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It would be a violation of "due process" if he had been indicted and the the trial were delayed for 4 years. A "potential" defendant has no right to a speedy anything while an investigation is ongoing.

 

The evidence is not 4 years old; it was gathered over the past 4 years at various points.

 

Once can argue all one wants about whether or not the indictment should have been brought but any lawyer will tell you that there is no argument to be made here about "due process."

 

The "federal government" is not a monolith. There are many issues the "federal government" deals with all the time. Individual prosecutors decide which crimes to investigate.

 

The argument that this shouldn't have been pursued -- on any level -- seems to really miss the point. At least to me. With all due respect.

 

Mark

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Glad you feel better after ranting but this has nothing to do with "Republicans."

 

There many things one can take issue with concerning Republicans ... and Democrats. But not investigation of steroid use which has been bi-partisan from the beginning.

 

As a matter of fact, Henry Waxman -- Democrat of California -- has been one of those most outfront on this issue. Couple that with the fact that the man hired by baseball to conduct an investigation is Sen. George Mitchell -- former Senate Majority Leader and prominent Democrat -- and you can hardly argue that this is some sort of evil conspiracy perpetrated by Republicans.

 

The "government" has looked into this because Baseball is a federally-regulated sport and, therefore, the government has every right to look into something that maybe potentially criminal.

 

All of the issues you mention are important, but that doesn't mean that this issue should have been ignored. At least not in my very humble opinion.

 

Mark

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Guest zipperzone

If they are so focused on putting liars in prison, I could give them a whole list of Washington types who would be much better candidates.

 

As for Bond's and Baseball's steroid use....... YAWN

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Litigation is a slow process. With a high profile person who can afford top notch defense, all the details need to be covered if a case is to be made.

There is value in holding all people to the same standard. Given immunity if he did not lie, which may have ended this investigation years ago, Bonds opted to lie to protect his potential windfall from breaking the home run record. Instead of holding the people who were doing their job responsible for this delay, point the finger at the man who had the chance to come clean with immunity who instead lied with impugnity. Those lies led to the bulk of the work that had to be done here and led directly to the money and the time spent. For me, Bonds doesnt need to go to jail, he should have to admit to wrongdoing and then reimburse the government for cost of exposing his disregard for judiciary of the US.

You can count on his lawyers delaying further action for months and perhaps years until Bonds has sucked the last dollar from his fame.

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>Bush should pardon him, just like he did for Libby. :o

 

He has to be convicted first and receive a sentence...recall Libby only got his sentence commuted.

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He is getting due process. And in this case the process is starting off with the grand jury investigation and indictment. On the other hand there is that old saying that even an incompetent prosecutor can get grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. A grand jury is an investigative tool and an indictment only means that there's sufficient evidence to move toward trial.

 

All this waste of time business sounds like the defense laying the groundwork for an everybody-does-it-so-he's-not-guilty defense.

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> On the other hand there is that old saying that even an

>incompetent prosecutor can get grand jury to indict a ham

>sandwich. A grand jury is an investigative tool and an

>indictment only means that there's sufficient evidence to move

>toward trial.

 

I heard on the radio that there is a 90-95% conviction rate based on federal grand jury indictments. Does anyone know how or where to validate this statistic? If it is true, I wouldn't want to be facing those odds.

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Don't forget that Barry has millions of dollars to pay for the best defense. Who's going to be the new Johnny Cochran? Personally, I don't like the man, but steroids have been a fact of life in baseball for many years now and management looked the other way. So they really all deserve each other.

Wasn't Jose Canseco hot though?

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>>Bush should pardon him, just like he did for Libby. :o

>

>He has pardoned Libby? When? I sure as hell missed that one!

 

Back in September after Libby exhausted his appeals. And it was clemency, not a pardon. He commuted the prison sentence but left the fine and conviction in place. Consequently Libby still remains a convicted felon.

 

This caused outrage on both the left and the right since one side wanted him to go to jail and the other wanted him cleared of the charges. Therefore, it could be argued, that since he pissed off both sides he likely made the right decision.

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>Don't forget that Barry has millions of dollars to pay for

>the best defense. Who's going to be the new Johnny Cochran?

>Personally, I don't like the man, but steroids have been a

>fact of life in baseball for many years now and management

>looked the other way. So they really all deserve each other.

>Wasn't Jose Canseco hot though?

 

 

Yes, Jose was certainly hot and still is IMO. But I cannot help but wonder how much those steriods shrunk his....um "bat"?

 

Here's his offcial website btw. I don't think I'd shell out $58 for an autographed copy of his bio. His jock on the other hand....:9

 

http://www.josecanseco.com/index.aspx

 

http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c262/cpapa8162/JConsecoBAT.jpg

 

http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c262/cpapa8162/JCansecoBats.jpg

 

http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c262/cpapa8162/JCanseco.jpg

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Guest zipperzone

>>>Bush should pardon him, just like he did for Libby. :o

>>

>>He has pardoned Libby? When? I sure as hell missed that one!

>

>Back in September after Libby exhausted his appeals. And it

>was clemency, not a pardon. He commuted the prison sentence

>but left the fine and conviction in place. Consequently Libby

>still remains a convicted felon.

 

That's what I thought. The pardon won't come until 24 hours before Bush steps down.

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