Thursday, April 14, 2011

Missing the Point

Barry Bonds was convicted yesterday of one count of obstruction of justice. A mistrial was declared on the three counts of perjury (SF Chronicle).

I don't know the prosecutors. I don't know what motivated them. Baseball fans and celebrities like to think of themselves as special, as the center of the universe. This generally gives them persecution complexes. People will say and have said that the feds were only going after Barry because he broke hallowed records through shady means, that this was an assault on his legacy, and a waste of time and money.

The truth is, that if you let people get away with perjury, you undermine the entire justice system, and especially the federal grand jury system. That is why the feds will always jump at the chance to prosecute a high-profile perjury case that they know will grab headlines and get in the news, like Barry Bonds, like Martha Stewart. They want to remind everyone that it doesn't matter who you are, you cannot lie under oath. That's what this trial was about.

When Bonds sat down to testify before the grand jury in 2003, he had immunity from any self-incriminating statements he made. He had no reason to lie, except to protect his own image and legacy.

And he did lie. If you think he didn't, you're delusional (and probably live in San Francisco).

He lied under oath, and he was prosecuted. Did the feds have a strong enough case to pursue it all the way to trial? Maybe not, but I don't think that was the point. Maybe the next time a celebrity sits down in front of a grand jury to testify, they'll think twice about rambling evasive answers (the kind that got Barry convicted of obstruction of justice) or about lying.

That was the point.

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