Barry Bonds Obstruction Conviction Overturned by 9th Circuit

Government's shameful witch hunt of baseball's best player comes to an ignominious end


What better way to celebrate? |||

In July 2005, nearly a full decade ago, the federal government wrapped up its most headline-grabbing steroids prosecution in history, against defendants associated with the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO). The final BALCO tally? Four convictions, on an aggregate total of six counts, netting the perps a grand total of seven months in prison combined. The underlying criminal case, wrote the San Francisco Chronicle, "seemed to end with a whimper."

But from President George W. Bush on down, the real perceived "bang" in this case was never about cracking down on illegal steroids dealers, but rather publicly shaming BALCO's most famous customer, the elite slugger (and widely hated personality) Barry Bonds.

Bonds was eventually convicted in 2011 not for illegal drugs, but for obstruction of justice, stemming from the way he answered a grand jury question about using steroids. (This is consistent with how BALCO prosecutions have gone; the longest prison sentences have come not to drug-dealers, but to people who refused to testify.) That first conviction was upheld in 2013 by a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but then a majority of the Circuit's remaining judges voted to have a larger panel re-hear the case. That panel came back with a ruling this afternoon, and it was resounding: 10-1 against the federal government.

"Real-life witness examinations, unlike those in movies and on television, invariably are littered with non-responsive and irrelevant answers," Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in the ruling.

More from the Associated Press:

Jessica Wolfram, one of the jurors who convicted Bonds, said she couldn't help but feel it was "all a waste, all for nothing."

"Just a waste of money, having the whole trial and jury," she said.

Best quote comes from BALCO founder Victor Conte:

"Let's hope the prosecutors choose not to waste any more resources on what has been nothing more than a frivolous trophy-hunt and a complete waste of taxpayer dollars."

Reason on Barry Bonds here.

NEXT: UVA Dean Maligned by Rolling Stone Received Death and Rape Threats, Hires Lawyer

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Are his feet still growing?

  2. Great news. Will have to read the opinion as Judge Alex is a damn good writer.

    1. The opinion:…..-10669.pdf

  3. Alt-alt-text:

    …with the purchase of a Barry Bonds of equal or larger size.

    1. Alt-alt-text:

      His balls could fit in here

  4. “Let’s hope the prosecutors choose not to waste any more resources on what has been nothing more than a frivolous trophy-hunt and a complete waste of taxpayer dollars.”

    What possible incentive would they have to stop?

  5. I guess I’ll be happy about this. Even though Bonds is a complete toad of a human being, and I hate that era of baseball generally. What really pisses me off is what could have been. Bonds good have been one of the best 30-30 guys to ever play the game( along with GriffeyJr.). Much more interesting baseball IMO.

    1. *could* have been

    2. Barry Bonds is JOHN FUCKING GALT.

      1. Who is he?

    3. Could have been? He was. When you consider his ego, his poor relationships with Jeff Kent and the media, and the fact that he didn’t turn into BARRY BONDS! until 2001, it seems likely that his juicing was spurred on by getting snubbed for the 2000 MVP. And if you simply take 01 – 07 and throw them in the toilet Bonds is still one of the best OF’s of all time, and possibly the best power/speed combo in history.

      1. and that’s the shame of it, not just with Bonds but with Clemens, too, and to an extent McGwire. Bonds and Clemens were already future Hall guys without the juice and Mac was a home run machine from his rookie year. The latter just had issues staying healthy.

      2. Actually, his 1999 lost to injury is what likely spurred the juicing.

  6. 10-1 against the federal government.

    So who’s the east German judge?

    1. Dodgers fan.

      1. Naah. Tommy Lasorda.

        1. I poured a slim-fast in my beer tonight.

        2. “I hate Tommy Lasorta.”

  7. Punish the false accuser with the same punishment he sought for the accused. Add on a few years because as a government official he should have known better.

  8. ” baseball’s best player”

    No. Not only no, but hell no. There’s more to being a great ball player than hitting home runs and being a dick. Bonds had great speed before he started juicing, but never had the defensive skills to be in that category.

    1. Bonds had great speed before he started juicing, but never had the defensive skills to be in that category.


      Barry Bonds won eight gold gloves.

      He was a shitty defender after he got huge from the roids because they destroyed his speed and also made him kind of awkwardly sized.

      All of this is pointless because the real reason Bonds isn’t baseballs best player is because of the steroids. If it hadn’t been for the steroids he never would have even sniffed the all time home run crown and probably would have basically been a worse version of Willie Mays – Mays with less power and worse defense basically, though his defense was still very good early in his career.

      1. Also, I think you have to scale by era to decide who the ‘best player’ is. Bonds was in an era with a shitload of home runs because of steroids, so if you scale Bonds’ numbers to consider how many 500-700 home run hitters played in his era, he definitely shouldn’t be considered the best.

        Willie Mays was better compared to his contemporaries than Bonds was compared to his. For that matter, Babe Ruth used to hit more home runs than half the teams in the American league.

        He actually outhomered every team in the AL twice.

        This number was ridiculous; it was more home runs than any other team in the American League hit during that season?and only the Philadelphia Phillies (with 64) managed to clear Ruth in the National League!

        One team in baseball had more home runs than he had. Barry Bonds can suck a dick.

        1. I’m claiming only that he was the best ballplayer of his era.

          1. Oh, so now it’s “his” era????

      2. Then why didn’t he play center or right?

        1. He had a crappy arm.

          But he could cover ground like a CF, at least in his youth. And, what do you know, he played 110 games in CF in 1986.

  9. Wow, reading the opinion really makes it obvious what an immensely ridiculous decision this was. In two hours of testimony, Bonds said a grand total of one paragraph which the decided obstructed justice, and that paragraph is below:

    Attorney: Did Greg[, your trainer,] ever give you anything that
    required a syringe to inject yourself with?

    I’ve only had one doctor touch me. And that’s my only
    personal doctor. Greg, like I said, we don’t get into each
    others’ personal lives. We’re friends, but I don’t?we don’t
    sit around and talk baseball, because he knows I don’t want?
    don’t come to my house talking baseball. If you want to come
    to my house and talk about fishing, some other stuff, we’ll be
    good friends. You come around talking about baseball, you go
    on. I don’t talk about his business. You know what I mean?

    That’s what keeps our friendship. You know, I am sorry, but
    that?you know, that?I was a celebrity child, not just in
    baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a
    famous father. I just don’t get into other people’s business
    because of my father’s situation, you see.

    That last paragraph got him an obstruction count because he was ‘evading’ the question. As the decision points out, how can anyone claim this was intentional obstruction of justice just because he rambled a little bit? In two hours of testimony, you’re always going to get at least one rambling non-answer.

  10. shameful witch hunt of baseball’s best player

    Pete Rose.

    /drops mic

    1. Pete Rose.

      Now people are just trolling.

      1. What does Paul Giamatti have to say?

      2. What is Reggie Jackson, chopped liver?

        1. YES! Had he played for anyone but the Yankees he would be lost to history.

          He is the jim leyritz of his era.

          1. He played for the A’s, the Orioles, and the Angels besides the Yankees. Though admittedly he got the most attention as a Yankee.


              He struck out more than 2 times as often as he walked. He played for 21 years and didn’t get 3,000 hits. He’s got a lifetime .262 average.

              Other than home runs he’s got nothing… well, self confidence. He’s always got self confidence.

              “There isn’t enough mustard in the whole world to cover that (Reggie Jackson) hotdog.” – Oakland Athletics Pitcher Darold Knowles (1974) HA!

              1. He also led the league in OPS+ 4 times, HR’s 4 times, runs twice, and was in the top-10 in WAR 8 times. Jim Leyritz was a decent player and a good utility guy. Reggie Jackson is one of the top players of his era and a deserving HOF’er.

        2. It was always fun watching him play a fly ball. ANYTHING could happen- it could bounce over his head, bounce off his chest, go sailing past him. He had all the fielding skills of Curt Blefary.

      3. Pete Rose can suck a giant, fat dick. I drove past Jonathan’s Cafe in Franklin Ohio every day on my way to school and everybody’s day knew what went on in there. Those fuckers were crooked and everyone knew Pete was in there betting on baseball (seeing as his Lambo with “4192” was parked car it front all the damn time). He signed the lifetime ban and I hope he gets into the HOF about 48 hours after he dies but not a minute earlier.

        I hate him so much. He ruined not only baseball for me but many things I believed about honesty and integrity. I grew up a Reds season ticket holder from the time I was 5 until the day after Pete accepted the ban. I didn’t go to a MLB game for nearly a decade after that.

        Fuck him. He’s worse than Nicole.

        1. Sorry for all the typos. Few things generate such a visceral reaction as Pete fucking Rose. I actually start hearing the fight song from Kill Bill when I hear his name. And I started to black out from the rage when I was typing.

    2. Fuck that. Kirby Puckett.

      Yeah, I know that is a homer call, but man he was a great player for the Twins.

      The 91 world series and his “Climb on my back” game 6 is legendary.

  11. baseball’s best player

    Uh huh. Just like Obama was not going to go through with Obamacare because of he made some paeans to fiscal responsibility during his election campaign.

    Is he trying to compete with Gillespie in making the shittiest and most ludicrous pop-culture references?

    1. Barry Bonds won 7 MVP awards (and was top-ten 6 other seasons), led his league in Wins Above Replacement 6 times, (and was top ten an additional 10). I am comfortable in saying there was no better baseball player between 1990-2004.

      1. I too am comfortable with that assertion.

        /takes blanket out.

      2. WAR? What is it good for?

        Sabermetrics is to sports what keynesianism is to economics.

  12. Will John McCain convene an emergency session of the Un-American Activities Committee?

  13. Baseball’s best all time player is one of the following:

    Honus Wagner
    Ted Williams
    Lou Gehrig
    Willie Mays
    Bob Gibson

    1. Pascual Perez.


        That would have been the bestbaseball card ever…

        1. Best card ever:


      2. Easily the worst driver in baseball history.

    2. shit- Ty Cobb. Nevermind. it’s ty cobb. Something about being a generally awful person makes me forget him. But- statistically, he might be the best that’s ever been and best there ever will be. (other than Roy Hobbs.)

      1. The answer is Babe Ruth and I don’t care how much of a ‘conventional wisdom’ asshole that makes me.

        One of the best pitchers in the league. Became a batter. Out-homered every team in the American league on two separate occasions.

        When Babe Ruth retired he had twice as many home runs as second place.

        1. you know what Ty cobb said about Ruth? “He could run okay for a fat man”

          1. I’m just surprised there’s a single sentence Ty Cobb ever said about anyone which contained 0 racial slurs.

            1. Yeah, Cobb wouldn’t do to well today:

              Stories of Cobb’s racial intolerance were well-documented. In 1907 during spring training in Augusta, Georgia, a black groundskeeper named Bungy, whom Cobb had known for years, attempted to shake Cobb’s hand or pat him on the shoulder. The overly familiar greeting infuriated Cobb, who slapped him and chased him from the clubhouse. When Bungy’s wife tried to intervene, Cobb turned around and choked her until teammates pried his hands off her neck. In 1908 in Detroit, a black laborer castigated him after he accidentally stepped into some freshly poured asphalt. Cobb assaulted the laborer on the spot, knocking him to the ground. The ballplayer was found guilty of battery, but a friendly judge suspended his sentence. Cobb paid the laborer $75 to avoid a civil suit.

              Read more:…..MTAKI6v.99

            2. Apparently he did mellow out by the 1950s, saying nice things about Jackie Robinson.

              “Certainly it is okay for them to play. I see no reason in the world why we shouldn’t compete with colored athletes as long as they conduct themselves with politeness and gentility. Let me say also that no white man has the right to be less of a gentleman than a colored man; in my book that goes not only for baseball but in all walks of life.”

              1. I think he stopped drinking so heavily by then. Apparently,in his younger days, he also used to beat his wife so bad that she couldn’t walk afterwords.

          2. Could you imagine Ty Cobb in the Twitter age?

            Oh my God.

            1. C’mon Rufus. 10 day suspension.

              Just three months before the three men attacked him in Detroit in 1912, Cobb assaulted a New York Highlanders fan at Hilltop Park in New York City. The fan, Claude Lueker, was missing all of one hand and three fingers on the other from a printing press accident, but he spent the entire game heckling the Detroit players. After enduring taunts that were “reflecting on my mother’s color and morals,” Cobb reported in his autobiography, the Georgia native had had enough. He jumped the rail along the third-base side of the field and climbed 12 rows of seats to get to Lueker, whom he slammed to the ground and beat senseless. Someone screamed for Cobb to stop, pointing out that the man had no hands. “I don’t care if he has no feet!” Cobb yelled back, stomping Lueker until park police pulled him off. American League president Ban Johnson, who was at the game, suspended Cobb for 10 days.

              Read more:…..MTAKI6v.99
              Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12!
              Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

              1. See below.

              2. I know Cobb could be a real asshole. But the handless guy violated one of my rules of thumb. Don’t pick a fight if you don’t want to be in a fight.

                1. Heh, handless . . . rules of thumb.

        2. I agree. He and Gretzky pretty much own their respective sports.

          People can debate all they want but it won’t change squat.

          1. Except that Ruth played in an era that didn’t have all of the best players competing against one another. Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige immediately come to mind.

            1. And Gretzky played in an era when Soviet players couldn’t come to the NHL.

              Not sure it should diminish his accomplishments anymore two great players would Ruth.

              1. Not diminishing either’s accomplishments. Just that comparisons are very difficult between eras.

              2. Gretzky also played in an era devoid of goaltending talent and where defensemen were judged by how willing they were to try and imitate Bobby Orr.

                The 80’s were a disgrace, but every era in every sport has its flaws. That’s the primary reason why I hate GOAT arguments.

      2. I don’t care if he got no feet.

    3. Teddy Ballgame. Dude missed out on the prime years of his career due to military service as a Marine Corps fighter pilot and still compiled ungodly numbers.

      And the most impressive pitching and hitting records in baseball are Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 career strikeouts and Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak, respectively. Nobody will ever come close to breaking either.

    4. I stand behind Ruth. Add his pitching onto his hitting and none of them compare.

    5. Baseball’s best all time player is one of the following:

      Get back to me when you find out that one of those guys was also a 20 game winning pitcher.

  14. Jessica Wolfram, one of the jurors who convicted Bonds, said she couldn’t help but feel it was “all a waste, all for nothing.”

    “Just a waste of money, having the whole trial and jury,” she said.

    Then why the fuck did you vote to convict you vicious witch?

    1. because the judge and prosecutors don’t believe in jury nullification. they instruct to convict even if the law broken is idiotic.

      1. Bingo.

        Jurors are told they have an “obligation” to convict if a law is broken, by both the judge and prosecutor. And the juror selection process, especially in a high profile case which gets a lot of pre trial publicity, is essentially designed to weed out anybody who knows otherwise.

        1. Its still bullshit.

          You are a moral agent. If you believe the law is wrong, you have a moral duty to nullify it. The only thing that conflicts with that duty, that will get you any sympathy from me, is if there’s some actual danger to yourself.

          But there isn’t in the US. There’s nothing that will be done, nothing that *can* be done, to threaten you.

          1. What would happen if a juror went against the ‘obligation’?


    2. Because the IRS has the name and Socialist Slave Number of every juror.

      Want a 7 year audit? Vote Not Guilty.

  15. My best friend’s mother-in-law makes $85 /hour on the internet . She has been out of work for 5 months but last month her pay was $16453 just working on the internet for a few hours.
    Visit this website ?????

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.