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United States v. Bonds

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
730 F.3d 890 (2013)


Facts

The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted Barry Bonds (defendant), a celebrated baseball player who was the son of another famous player, for obstruction of justice in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1503. The charge arose from testimony that Bonds gave before a federal grand jury investigating his and other professional athletes' rumored use of steroids and other banned performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). The prosecutor asked Bonds to tell the grand jury if his trainer, Greg Anderson, had ever given Bonds a self-injectable substance. Bonds' rambling reply, to the effect that he might chat with Anderson about fishing, but never about baseball or each other’s personal business, included what became known as "Statement C": "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." Statement C was factually truthful about Bonds' celebrity lineage, and the grand jury later learned the truth about Anderson's distribution of self-injectable PEDs from Bonds himself as well as from other witnesses. Nevertheless, the jury found that Statement C was misleading and evasive, and that Bonds was guilty of obstructing justice. The court sentenced Bonds to 30 days' home confinement and two years' probation. Bonds's subsequent appeal was heard by a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Schroeder, J.)

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