The U.S. government is still calling Barry Bonds a liar.
Although a jury deadlocked last year on three counts of perjury, the retired Giants slugger was convicted on one count of obstructing justice for giving an evasive answer to the grand jury. Bonds' lawyers are arguing on appeal that Bonds can't be convicted for giving "truthful albeit rambling" testimony.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Merry Jean Chan, who filed the government's answer brief to the Ninth Circuit on Thursday, isn't having any of that. The statement Bonds was convicted for was "false and misleading and evasive," she wrote, even though the government needed to prove only one of those three to convict under 18 U.S.C. Section 1503.
Chan points to trial testimony from friends of Bonds who said they saw him inject himself or heard him admit using steroids. Although that evidence didn't lead to any perjury convictions, Bonds wasn't acquitted either. "The trial evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the government, shows that [Bonds'] denials were false," Chan writes, "and this court may not view the evidence differently based on the jury’s failure to reach a verdict on the false statement charge."
Bonds was asked before the grand jury if his personal trainer, Greg Anderson, had ever given him anything to inject himself with. He said the only doctor who'd ever touched him was his personal doctor, then digressed into into his upbringing as a "celebrity child with a famous father." He later answered "no" to the question after it was repeated.
"Bonds was not engaging in an informal conversation, but giving immunized testimony under oath at a proceeding which 'has the formality and gravity necessary to remind the witness that his ... statements will be the basis for official governmental action,'” Chan writes, quoting the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last month on the Stolen Valor Act.
Under those circumstances, the jury properly rejected Bonds' characterization of his testimony as "a rambling detour to the truth," Chan concludes, and correctly "understood it as an effort to evade the BALCO investigation."