SAN FRANCISCO -- Federal prosecutors urged an appellate court to deny Barry Bonds' request for a rehearing of his attempt to overturn his obstruction of justice conviction.
The career home runs leader was convicted of one count of obstruction in April 2011 stemming from his 2003 testimony before a grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. That conviction was upheld in September in a unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the following month, Bonds asked for a rehearing by an 11-judge limited en banc panel.
In a brief filed by the government Wednesday, prosecutors said Bonds' request "is based on a hyperbolic characterization of the panel's opinion, inaccuracies about the record, and an incorrect conflation of the requirements for perjury and obstruction of justice. The panel's decision is squarely in accord with precedent and raises no question of extraordinary importance."
The 27 active judges on the court will hold a secret vote, and a majority is required to grant the rehearing.
Despite the attempt to overturn the conviction, Bonds already has agreed to start the sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in December 2011: 30 days of house arrest with location monitoring, two years of probation, $4,100 in penalties and 250 hours of community service with youth-related activities.
After a three-week trial three years ago, a jury of eight women and four men deadlocked on three counts accusing Bonds of making false statements, charges that were later dismissed. Bonds was convicted of obstruction for his response when asked whether Greg Anderson, his personal trainer and a longtime friend, ever gave him "anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?"
"That's what keeps our friendship," Bonds said during a meandering response. "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."
"Bonds was convicted of obstructing justice because, after being subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury, after receiving immunity, after taking an oath to tell the truth and being given numerous opportunities through repeated questioning to tell the truth, he consistently testified in a false, misleading, and evasive fashion about what he knew regarding Anderson's distribution of PEDs," prosecutors said in their brief.
"While it was true that Bonds was a celebrity child, he employed that fact to craft a sham explanation about why he did not know anything about what Anderson did professionally in order to derail the grand jury's inquiry into whether Anderson had given him injectable PEDs. ... Bonds did this intentionally to obstruct the grand jury's investigation."
Bonds' lawyers say he should not have been convicted for an answer they claim was truthful. That argument was rejected by Senior Circuit Judges Mary M. Schroeder and Michael Daly Hawkins along with Judge Mary H. Murguia, who served on the three-person panel.