The Barry Bonds verdicts are in. Sort of. The jury found Bonds guilty—not guilty of lying to a grand jury—guilty of one count of obstruction of justice, for allegedly misleading investigators, giving evasive testimony, etc. The jury hung on the other three charges. In our criminal justice system, no defendant is guilty of a crime unless the jury unanimously finds guilt. If even one juror has reasonable doubt, then there is no conviction. But this is not the same as an acquittal (i.e. not guilty verdict). When the jury doesn’t agree unanimously, there is no verdict, and the result is a mistrial, which means that the prosecution, at its own discretion, may bring the charges again at a later date.
So what does all this mean, and what happens next? Lots of things. Barry Bonds may go to prison. He could go for a long time (unlikely), or it could be a Martha Stewart stint. According to ESPN’s Roger Cossack, the judge should throw out the lone conviction. Whether or not Bonds does go to prison, the U.S. Attorney could refile the three other charges, could get convictions, and could then send Bonds to prison, or increase his sentence. But at the end of the day, does anybody (other than Barry Bonds) really care?
Indeed, there are some provocative legal questions/issues in the Bonds verdict, but aren’t we all sick of hearing about Barry Lamar Bonds? So when I hear people cry out at the incredible disservice that the Bonds jury did to our justice system, it makes me chuckle—especially when it comes from a former colleague, who, once upon a time was a brilliant attorney himself.
This is proof positive that the jury just punted here. They decided to “do justice” rather than follow the evidence. I’m not OK with that. You shouldn’t be either.
So what if the jury punted. Sometimes juries do that. But so do judges, and maybe even U.S. presidents (not to mention quite a few football players). Even if Bonds gets off completely, the supposition that the jury punted isn’t going to have any ameliorative effect on Bonds’ baseball legacy. After all that he did in terms of home runs and records, historically, when it’s all said and done, Barry Bonds will eternally be lower than even Bill Buckner.
If you feel otherwise, please chime in (that’s why there’s space below for comments).