Former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds has been granted another appeal of his 2011 obstruction of justice conviction for giving misleading or evasive testimony to a grand jury during an investigation into allegations of steroid sales to professional athletes.
Bonds, Major League Baseball’s single-season and career home run record holder, was granted a new hearing by an 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a brief filed today.
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit upheld the conviction last year.
Bonds, 49, has been fighting the charges since he was indicted in 2007. The indictment was revised several times and at one point included 14 counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction.
He was convicted only of the obstruction count in 2011 and sentenced by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to one month of home confinement, 250 hours of community service and two years of probation.
Attorneys for Bonds have argued that federal prosecutors were seeking a “conviction of a high-profile defendant at any cost” and pursuing charges of obstruction of justice against Bonds despite being unable to prove that he lied.
Bonds gave the testimony during a 2003 investigation into the sale of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs by the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
He made a rambling statement in response to a government lawyer’s question about whether his trainer, Greg Anderson, ever gave him anything to inject himself with.
Bonds said he was the “celebrity child” of a baseball-playing father and that he didn’t talk to Anderson about business matters.
Bonds’ lawyers argued that the statement was truthful even if it didn’t answer the question and said Bonds later answered the question directly.
But the 9th Circuit upheld in September 2013 that Bonds impeded the work of the grand jury through the evasive statement. It rarely grants an 11-judge rehearing but did so in this case.
If Bonds loses the appeal, his next step would be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Scott Morris, Bay City News