Barry Bonds, Major League Baseball’s homerun record holder, won dismissal of five of 14 charges accusing him of lying about taking steroids. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco ruled today that the charges were redundant, vague or couldn’t lead to a conviction. She refused Bonds’s request to throw out four other perjury charges and a charge that he obstructed justice. The government may recharge Bonds on one count, the judge’s order says, which would leave him facing 10 counts of perjury.
For what it's worth, I went and read the decision. It breaks down like this:
A: Not that I can recall. Like I say, I could be wrong. But I’m – I’m – going
from my recollection it was, like, in the 2002 time and 2003 season.
The court dismissed the count regarding this answer because it was ambiguous. Repeat: it wasn't a bad question that got the charge tossed, it was Barry's farkakte answer. OK, to be fair, it was really because the prosecutors weren't smart enough at the time to try to pin Barry down, which the court correctly notes is their job. Still, I love the idea that Barry's lawyers got a count dismissed by saying that their own client made no sense.
So that's that. Nothing really game-changing here from a legal perspective. Barry's lawyers made several arguments that the questions and answers in play were vague and ambiguous, and for the most part, the court said that issue was up to the jury to decide. Still, the court did note a handful of poorly-constructed questions and possibly non-responsive answers. If it did, the jury may very well too. Unlike the court, however, the jury does not give anyone else the benefit of the doubt on the matter.
I've said in the past that I think Barry skates, and I'm still leaning in that direction. On the other hand, some smart people I know with a bit of inside information regarding the greater steroid investigation world are telling me that Barry is toast for a number of reasons. They may very well be right.
All that said, I suppose facing nine or ten counts is better than 15.