*Barry Bonds’ chances of getting into baseball’s Hall of Fame saw new life as a federal appeals court overturned the former San Francisco Giants player’s felony conviction for obstructing justice on Wednesday (April 22).
The Los Angeles Times reports the decision came from an 11-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The publication referenced an unsigned ruling that highlighted the court saying that there was insufficient evidence that Bonds’ rambling reply while testifying in the case was material. As a result, the court concluded that the athlete may not be retried.
“Making everyone who participates in our justice system a potential criminal defendant for conduct that is nothing more than the ordinary tug and pull of litigation risks chilling zealous advocacy,” Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in a concurring opinion, signed by four other judges. “It also gives prosecutors the immense and unreviewable power to reward friends and punish enemies by prosecuting the latter and giving the former a pass.”
With the court’s ruling, prosecutors in Bonds’ case do not have a single conviction against him. The Times noted that the decision could help the ex sports star win a place in the Hall of Fame
Overall, it overturned a unanimous ruling in 2013 by a three-judge 9th Circuit panel that upheld Bonds’ conviction. In that situation, the panel ruled that that a person may be convicted of obstruction for making factually true statements if they are intended to mislead or evade.
As a result, Bonds ultimately decided to serve his sentence, which was house arrest, and pay a fine. Despite this, he ended up asking a larger panel to review the panel’s ruling.
In his defense, lawyers for Bonds argued that he couldn’t be found guilty for giving a long-winded answer to a question he eventually answered. Prosecutors countered, saying that Bonds was lying with his response and intended to mislead. Nevertheless, the jury in the case did not find Bonds guilty of perjury.
Although he was free of the perjury charge, Bonds ended up being convicted in light of how he responded to a federal prosecutor regarding questions on whether his former trainer, Greg Anderson, had ever given him an injectable substance.