Friday, October 6, 2006
Greg Anderson, the former personal trainer for (perhaps the former) San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, was released from jail by U.S. District Judge William Alsup because of what the judge termed a "legal snafu." Judge Alsup sent Anderson to jail for civil contempt twice because of his refusal to testify before a grand jury investigating whether Bonds committed perjury in denying before a federal grand jury that he knowingly used steroids. Anderson pleaded guilty in the Balco (Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative) case to supplying steroids, and according to the government possessed records showing possible steroid use by Bonds. Anderson's first contempt ended in July when the grand jury's term expired, and this time he was released because the Ninth Circuit did not complete its review of Anderson's appeal of the civil contempt within the required thirty days. Under the Recalcitrant Witness Act, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1826(b), "Any appeal from an order of confinement under this section shall be disposed of as soon as practicable, but not later than thirty days from the filing of such appeal." The Ninth Circuit issued a memorandum opinion (here) on September 28 rejecting most of Anderson's arguments, but it remanded the case because the district court's findings on an secret tape recording that Anderson alleges was the result of an illegal wiretap were insufficient for appellate review. The district court was given one week to make a record of its position on the wiretap issue so the appellate panel could review it, but that meant the Ninth Circuit had not decided the appeal within the requisite thirty days, which expired on Oct. 5.
While Anderson is free once again, he could be back in jail rather quickly if the Ninth Circuit agrees with the district court's findings that the government's proposed examination of him in the grand jury will not entail any use of the tape recording and therefore does not violate his rights. If the Ninth Circuit does not release him, then Anderson may have to sit in jail until the grand jury's term expires in January 2008, unless he decides to cut his losses and testify about Bonds. An AP story (here) discusses District Judge Alsup's reluctant ruling. (ph)