Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Reporters in Bonds Leak Investigation Avoid Jail for Now

San Francisco Chronicle reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada have avoided being sent to jail for civil contempt, at least for a little while.  The two reporters were subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury investigating the leak of the testimony of major league baseball players, most prominently San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, who testified in 2003 during the Balco (Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative) steroids investigation.  The reporters quoted extensively from Bonds' testimony in which he denied knowingly using steroids provided by his personal trainer, Greg Anderson.  The current investigation includes possible perjury by Bonds and the potential violation of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) related to the improper disclosure of grand jury materials.  While a federal district court judge ordered the two reporters to testify or be subject to civil contempt sanctions (see earlier post here), they worked out an agreement with prosecutors that they do not have to go to jail while they appeal the district court's order to the Ninth Circuit.  They are in a better position than Anderson, Bonds' former trainer, who is in jail for a second time because he refused to answer questions before the grand jury about his knowledge of Bonds' use of steroids.  Given the recent spate of cases enforcing subpoenas to reporters, it seems unlikely that Williams and Fainaru-Wada will avoid jail if they carry through with their assertion that they will not testify.  The grand jury has over 15 more months in its term, so they could face a substantial period of incarceration for civil contempt. An AP story (here) discusses the agreement with federal prosecutors. (ph)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/whitecollarcrime_blog/2006/09/reporters_in_bo.html

Grand Jury, Investigations, Perjury | Permalink

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