Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Sports Illustrated Column Previewing Barry Bonds Trial

I have a new SI.com column that previews the upcoming Barry Bonds trial, which is scheduled to begin on March 21. Here's an excerpt:

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. . . [P]rosecutors have signaled an interest in calling [Greg] Anderson to the stand, knowing that he would once again refuse to testify and therefore be placed in contempt of court. Prosecutors believe that a jury would interpret Anderson's refusal as a sign that Bonds knowingly lied under oath. Attorneys for Bonds are seeking to prevent prosecutors from deploying that strategy, and Judge Illston will have to determine whether prosecutors' calling Anderson to the stand with no expectation of him appearing would be more probative of Bonds's guilt or innocence or more prejudicial to Bonds, and disruptive of the proceedings.

Prosecutors also intend to call to the stand witnesses who are expected to testify that either Bonds told them of using steroids or that they saw him receive injections at the hands of Anderson. Kimberly Bell, Bonds' former girlfriend, and Bonds' former Giants teammate Bobby Estalella, are expected to claim that Bonds admitted in conversations that he used illegal performance-enhancers. Kathy Hoskins, Bonds' former assistant and the sister of Bonds' longtime friend/business manager Steve Hoskins, is apparently willing to testify that she saw Anderson inject Bonds. Such a statement would contradict Bonds' sworn testimony that no one except his doctor ever injected him with anything.

Also admissible, at least as of now, would be a portion of a recorded conversation purportedly between Steve Hoskins and Anderson, in which Anderson tells Hoskins that he injected Bonds with a performance-enhancing substance. Bonds' attorneys have requested that Judge Illston exclude the entire conversation, on grounds that Judge Illston's previous ruling requires that Anderson testify in order for him to be referenced.

Even if admissible, witness testimonies and recorded conversations would be subject to intense cross-examination by Bonds' attorneys, who would likely question witnesses' financial and legal motivations as well as their consistency of facts and recollection of specific detail from events that occurred a decade ago. Bonds's attorneys would also emphasize that conviction of perjury requires that the jury conclude, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Bonds knowingly lied under oath. If the government's case boils down to Bonds's words against those of witnesses about conversations and observances from years ago, it may prove difficult for jurors to lack any reasonable doubt.

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To read the rest, click here.