CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Sunday, November 18, 2007

CrimProfs James A. Cohen and Peter Keane Weigh in on Potential Barry Bond Trial

Jcohen From As news of Barry Bond’s indictment on federal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice spread, handicapping a likely trial and predicting possible strategies immediately became popular throughout the nation’s law schools.

The majority opinion, several professors said in telephone interviews, was that the government had to keep Bonds from seeking refuge in semantics, as President Bill Clinton did with his famous defense, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

Keane Bonds, baseball’s career home run leader, was indicted Thursday on four felony counts of lying to a federal grand jury in 2003 and one count of obstruction of justice. During an investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Op Bonds testified that he never knowingly took steroids or other illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

“I think the biggest challenge the prosecution will face is making the clarity of the questions that they asked stick,” said Fordham University CrimProf James A. Cohen. “If you don’t ask clear questions, it becomes much harder to prove that the answers are false.”

Golden Gate University CrimProf Peter Keane said: “Someone can always explain, ‘Well, I really didn’t mean that, or my memory was wrong in that situation, or I was confused or I had other kinds of problems in regard to the questions.’ If you can raise a reasonable doubt, then the jury can’t convict you.”

Bonds’s four perjury counts pertain to his denial of taking steroids and human growth hormone supplied by his trainer, Greg Anderson; his denial that he had received injections or had blood drawn by anyone but physicians; and the timing of those actions. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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