A Home Run or A Plea Agreement? Barry Bonds Comes Out Swinging!

Barry Bonds - WSJ Photo

According to Barry Bonds attorney, Kevin V. Ryan, former United States attorney who helped lead the investigation into what got Bonds in trouble, now sports defense attorney, his clients defense will likely go to trial. Barry Bond pleaded not guilty to five felony charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. The government’s assertion is that he lied four years ago when he told a grand jury he did not take steroids or human growth hormone.

His defense team consists of six – yep that’s – 6 attorneys. Great information about the legal side of Mr. Bonds defense can be found at the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/ Comments from the December 7th law blog is as follows:

The Law Blog has been surprised at how outspoken Ryan has been in the media about the Bonds case. Among other interviews, he told the NYT this morning that he expects Bonds to take the case to trial and predicted that his former deputies would call anyone connected to Bonds who appeared in front of the grand jury. “They’ll throw everything into it,” Ryan said, explaining that 10 months ago there was almost enough evidence to indict Bonds in the summer of 2006. Ryan also told the Daily News that Bonds’s legal team should ratchet down its aggressive rhetoric being directed at the government.

According to the New York Times in an article on December 6th:

Ryan (one of Bond’s attorneys) left the office 10 months ago but said there was almost enough evidence to indict Bonds in the summer of 2006. He said he decided to hold back to pressure Greg Anderson, Bonds’s trainer, to cooperate. Anderson had been in prison for only two weeks at that time, Ryan said.

Anderson spent another year behind bars for civil contempt of court for refusing to testify about Bonds and was released Nov. 15, the day Bonds was indicted. If he refuses to testify at trial, Ryan said, Anderson could be charged with a probation violation, punishable by up to two years in prison, or with criminal contempt of court.

Peter Keane, a 30-year veteran defense lawyer and dean emeritus at Golden Gate University Law School who has studied the case, said his best advice to Bonds would be for him to stop fighting and start negotiating. He said Bonds would have to take the stand in his defense to have any hope of prevailing.

With a plea agreement, he said, Bonds could get two months in prison instead of the 30 months he could face if convicted at trial.

The government would have to prove Bonds used steroids and human growth hormone and knew that he did, Keane said. Prosecutors are expected to use as evidence Bonds’s drastic increase in body size, a document revealing a positive steroid test result from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative and the testimony of other baseball players who obtained steroids from Anderson.

Because Bonds has said he did not knowingly take steroids, his lawyers could point to the grand jury transcript itself to introduce that defense at trial. But Keane said the only effective way to persuade a jury of Bonds’s state of mind would be for him to testify.

“Then there is the enormous problem of Bonds’s personality,” Keane said. “He’s got that short fuse. He comes across as very arrogant and very full of himself. Those are the qualities that if a jury thinks he is projecting to them, they’re going to hate him.”

In an interview last week, Cristina C. Arguedas, a prominent lawyer being considered for the defense team, also dismissed the thought of a plea agreement. “I don’t think anyone would negotiate this case,” Arguedas said. “Why would you? Barry has a good defense. He says he’s innocent. I would bet you anything this case won’t be negotiated.”

As a business ethics speaker, I must say, I won’t claim to know a great deal about sports steroid use. However, I do know a thing or two about choices, consequences and prison. I’ve made bad choices, and suffered the consequences in prison. Bonds is choosing a path that will either set him free or subject him to an outcome he certainly won’t want.

The issue at hand is not whether he used steroids. The issue is whether he lied. Not unlike Martha Stewart’s conviction. Martha was not convicted for securities violations, she was convicted for lying.

It is said that you reap what you sow. That is true! In this case Bonds is now walking a tight rope, cause the best way to prove his innocence is for him to put himself in the most difficult spot possible – squarely in front of the jurors who will ultimately decide his fate. When the dust settles – soon we will know the truth about consequences.

Perhaps if found innocent, Bonds will use the experience to help others learn from his costly lesson…it is always best to tell the truth.

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