by Rodimus Dunn
Despite its flaws, it’s without question that the United States has one of the greatest justice systems in the world. One of the largest problems was just illuminated with the recently completed Barry Bonds trial. For those not in the know, Bonds was federally indicted in 2007 for lying to federal investigators … in 2003! To sum up all of the confusion, Bonds’ 2011 trial came from a 2007 federal indictment over testimony he gave in 2003. Huh? The home run king allegedly lied to a grand jury about knowingly using performance enhancing steroids, and that he impeded the due administration of justice by being intentionally misleading (essentially being evasive). If he was convicted of those charges, he could have spent 5-10 years in prison.
Bonds was ultimately found guilty of obstruction of justice. After weeks of testimony by several high profile witnesses, he was busted for being evasive. There is almost no plausible scenario that he will see jail time for this conviction since he has no criminal history. Federal indictments and trials are extremely expensive because the government uses its power and leverage to acquire evidence, sequester witnesses, and formulate a winning case. All of this pretrial workup is funded by the federal government; hence, it comes from tax money. To put this into perspective, especially for those who care very little about sports (and for those who care about how money), millions of tax-payer dollars were spent to determine if some guy lied eight years ago about using steroids while he played baseball. The presumption of innocence (innocent until proven guilty mantra) is based on the tenant of honesty. Thus, it isn’t right for the burden of truth to be placed on the prosecution if dishonesty is rampant. If Barry Bonds lied to a grand jury 8 years ago he spit in the face of the honesty premise, but in the grand scheme of life (and millions of American public money), does it even matter in this case? Bonds stopped playing baseball in 2003, he wasn’t distributing steroids, he’s such a prick that no one in the world sees him as a role model, and the court of public opinion would be a much better punishment for his indiscretions. He doesn’t necessarily care what people think of him personally, but he is very aware of his accomplishments and status in baseball’s lexicon. Being one of the best baseball players ever matters to Bonds, not if reporters hate him, he has to go to court for a few weeks, not having to do community service, and not some silly fine.
The final verdict of the trial was that Bonds was found guilty of obstruction of justice. So the worst possible outcome for everyone (except for him) was realized. Since 2003, millions of tax dollars were spent to prove that Bonds was slimy and evasive. Who didn’t already know this prior to 2003? I don’t dislike Barry Bonds, and I don’t care that he won’t see any prison time, but I like my money spent wisely. An exorbitant amount of money used frivolously is disenchanting, especially during America’s current economic hardships. Yes Bonds had more steroids coursing through his veins than most WWE wrestlers, but who cares? It is illegal, but so is driving 31 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone. Bonds was only hurting himself, and the same can be said for anyone who smokes cigarettes, or drinks too much alcohol. If this case was an isolated incident, it wouldn’t be so problematic, but future cases are in the works for former pitcher Roger Clemens, and cyclist Lance Armstrong. Hopefully the Republicans and Obama can agree to trim this nonsensical waste in their new debt reducing budget proposals.