Barry Bonds trial delay expected as Feds appeal evidence ruling
SAN FRANCISCO -- The federal government today appealed a judge’s ruling to exclude key evidence in the perjury trial of former Giants slugger Barry Bonds, a move that will delay Bonds’ trial by several weeks or even months.
Prosecutors are appealing a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston to exclude documents and drug tests unless Bonds’ former trainer, Greg Anderson, agrees to testify and confirms they belonged to the home run king. Anderson appeared before Illston today and said he would not testify.
Illston told Anderson she would have to put him in prison during the trial for refusing to testify after being subpoenaed and given immunity by the prosecution.
“There is no question in his mind that he will appear whenever ordered to but he is not going to testify,” Mark Geragos, Anderson's lawyer, told the court.
Illston told Anderson she would have to order him to testify, and “there won’t be any right left not to testify.”
“You would be in contempt of my order, and I would send you to custody to give you an opportunity to change your mind,” said Illston, a Clinton appointee known for a strong intellect and even-handed style.
A federal prosecutor asked Illston to advise Anderson that he also could be subject to criminal contempt, which could mean a lengthy prison sentence beyond the trial. Illston said that was “possible” but indicated that civil contempt was the pressure she intended to use when the trial begins next week.
Illston also said she would hear arguments from Geragos about why Anderson should not be imprisoned and arguments from the defense that Anderson should not even take the stand, where he would have to refuse to testify in front of the jury.
Anderson already has spent a year in prison, and the federal government has threatened his wife and mother-in-law with prosecution.
Geragos said outside court that Anderson would end up spending about 10 days in prision and that there was nothing more that the government could do to change his client’s mind. “They have tried everything already.”
Illston has said she would exclude critical evidence, including records that purportedly show Bonds used illegal, performance-enhancing drugs, unless Anderson directly linked the evidence to Bonds. Bonds faces about 30 months in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors had hoped to link the records and positive drug tests to Bonds with testimony from other witnesses who would say Anderson told them the tests and records belonged to Bonds.
But courts typically exclude such evidence as hearsay because lawyers are unable to attack the original account and examine the credibility of the person who gave it.
Bonds is charged with perjury and obstruction stemming from testimony he gave a grand jury in 2003 that he never knowingly used banned drugs.
The prosecution seized evidence the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative of Burlingame, known as BALCO, and Anderson’s home that indicated Bonds used steroids in 2000 and 2001.
Prosecutors also have evidence that a test by Major League Baseball of Bonds in 2003 that tested negative for banned substances was retested in 2004 and showed BALCO drugs in Bonds' system.
-- Maura Dolan
Photo: Barry Bonds (left) and Greg Anderson (right). Credit: AP File Photo.