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Barry Bonds Indictment For Perjury

Just months after breaking baseball's homerun record, Barry Bonds now faces a different kind of notoriety:  he joins an increasing number of public figures, like Scooter Libby or

Martha Stewart, indicted for (or in Libby's or Stewart's case) convicted of, charges arising out of the investigation of the "sexier" crime for which they ultimately were not charged.  In Libby's case, he was convicted for perjury before a grand jury, not revealing CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity; in Stewart's case, she was convicted for obstruction of justice, not insider trading; and now, Bonds has been indicted for perjury, and not illegal use of narcotics or steroids.  (For a round up of news stories on the Bonds' indictment, see How Appealing.)

Though perjury sounds trivial, particularly in comparison to the more serious charge of illegal drug use, the Bonds indictment generated plenty of analysis in the blogosphere.   Peter Henning highlights some of the more interesting aspects of the Bonds investigation at White Collar Crime Prof Blog.  Henning anticipates that as an initial strategy, Bonds' lawyers will raise a "literal truth defense," and argue that Bonds' responses to questions about steroid use were not lies, but were either literally truthful, or unintentionally misleading due to confusion about the particular question.  Prosecutors likely anticipate this defense, because Bonds was also charged with "obstruction of justice" which would capture "evasive or misleading testimony" that might not rise to the level of perjury.  Like any good sports fan, Henning considers the odds of  plea bargain, which he predicts won't be less than 100-1, given that this case represents Bonds' last chance to preserve his legacy.

For baseball fans who aren't necessarily lawyers, Michael McCann of Sports Law Blog discusses some of the basics of the charges in Sports Illustrated.  McCann describes that perjury charges are indeed serious, exposing Bonds to up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of three perjury charges, as well as 10 years and a $250,000 fine for obstruction of justice.  And McCann notes that as a first time offender, Bonds would likely receive a lighter sentence. 

And speaking of sentences, the media is already soliciting comment from "sentencing expert," Doug Berman of the Sentencing Law Blog.  Berman in turn, has asked for help from readers, though he notes that both Libby and Victor Rita (whose case went to the Supreme Court) received 30 and 33 month sentences for perjury, both within applicable sentencing guidelines (though Libby's sentence was commuted).  Berman is also receiving some additional attention for his status as a sentencing expert: apparently, these two ESPN sports show hosts want Berman's job!

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on November 16, 2007 at 05:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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