Opinion

Commentary: Barry Bonds strikes out in court of public opinion

EFederal prosecutors ought to declare victory and call it a day in the Barry Bonds case.

Baseball's home run king (with an asterisk as big as his head) is now also a convicted felon. He has already been judged guilty in the court of public opinion of using steroids. There's little shine left on his reputation. And it's a good bet he won't get anywhere close to the Hall of Fame.

That's plenty enough punishment.

What more is to be gained by going to the time and expense of putting him on trial again on the perjury charges on which a jury deadlocked?

The federal jury in San Francisco did convict him Wednesday on a single count of obstructing justice, concluding that he made intentionally evasive, false or misleading statements in 2003 to a grand jury investigating use of performance enhancing drugs by top-level athletes. The charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison although, according to federal sentencing guidelines, it's unlikely he'll get much, if any, prison time. Even if Bonds is convicted of more charges, it's unlikely he'll be behind bars very long.

Prosecutors swung for the fences, originally winning indictments on 15 charges against Bonds. But they were severely hamstrung because the slugger's former trainer, Greg Anderson, steadfastly refused to testify against his friend – even to the point of repeatedly going to jail for contempt of court.

After federal prosecutors and investigators spent some seven years and several million dollars in pursuit, Bonds finally went on trial last month and had to sit through humiliating testimony from an ex-mistress about sexual dysfunction and other evidence of his alleged steroid use.

Prosecutors dropped one of the five charges before the case even went to the jury. Demonstrating how weak they believed the prosecution's case was, defense lawyers didn't call a single witness.

Bond's lawyers plan to appeal. If the conviction is set aside, that changes the equation. Then U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag would be justified to bring charges again.

Barring that, prosecutors have accomplished many of their goals.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.sacbee.com.

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