Federal prosecutors asked a U.S. appeals court in San Francisco today to allow them to use three allegedly positive steroids tests in the long-delayed perjury trial of home-run champion Barry Bonds.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Valliere told an appeals panel, “There is no evidence” that Bonds’ trainer, Greg Anderson, “had a motive to lie” when he allegedly linked the tests to Bonds.
Bonds, 45, is accused of lying about his steroid use in 2003 in testimony before a grand jury investigating the sale of performance-enhancing drugs by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
Prosecutors want to use as evidence three allegedly positive steroid tests from 2000 and 2001, which they contend were provided by Bonds and given by Anderson to BALCO for outside testing.
But the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, has barred prosecutors from using that evidence unless Anderson testifies to authenticate it. Anderson has refused to testify.
Bonds’ trial, which was scheduled to begin last March 2, was abruptly halted three days before its opening when prosecutors decided to appeal Illston’s ruling.
After hearing 40 minutes of arguments this morning, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals took the case under submission and will issue a written ruling at a later date.
Valliere argued that Anderson’s direct testimony is not needed because he was acting as Bonds’ agent and a former BALCO official, James Valente, can testify that Anderson brought in the samples.
But Dennis Riordan, one of seven defense lawyers working on Bonds’ case, argued, “There is probably no area in which lies and misstatements occur more commonly than in the area of drug testing.”
The defense also contends that prosecutors didn’t back up their argument fully before Illston and therefore can’t argue now that her decision was unreasonable.
The panel, made up of Circuit Judges Mary Schroeder, Stephen Reinhardt and Carlos Bea, has no deadline for issuing a ruling, but has said it is handling the appeal on an expedited basis.
Bonds, now a free agent, set the Major League Baseball career home-run record while playing for the San Francisco Giants in 2007.
He is charged with 10 counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing justice in grand jury testimony on Dec. 4, 2003.
Among other statements, he is accused of lying when he said he never knowingly took steroids, never received testosterone or human growth hormone from Anderson and never was injected by Anderson.