Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why the Barry Bonds perjury trial is a complete waste of your money

As you may have heard, especially if you live in the Bay Area[*], former San Francisco Giant and all-time Major League Baseball home run leader Barry Lamar Bonds is on trial for lying to a federal grand jury about whether or not he used steroids. Contrary to what you might think, he's not on trial for actually using steroids, he's on trial for saying he didn't when he did.

Let's start out by assuming two basic premises are true:

1. Barry Bonds knowingly used steroids while he was a baseball player; and
2. Barry Bonds lied to a federal grand jury when he said otherwise.

Now, if we accept those things are true, what should the federal government do about it? What they've decided to do is to use your money (and mine, and Barry Bonds', presumably) to empanel and inconvenience 12 citizens and conduct a jury trial at some (probably not inconsequential) expense. I am more than willing to agree that people emphatically should not lie to grand juries while under oath, but is this prosecution really the way we want to spend our money?

Yes, Barry Bonds once looked like this.

I mean, I guess it SENDS A MESSAGE that you won't get away with lying under oath, so that's great, but (1) how many people are ever put in the position of needing to lie under oath, and (2) is this trial going to convince them not to, if their ass is on the line? "Well, I really want to lie and deny my part in that multinational cocaine-smuggling conspiracy, but I don't want what happened to Barry to happen to me, so I guess I'll admit it.") We can all agree that it would be best if people told the truth ton grand juries, and that Barry should suffer some consequence for not doing so, BUT BUT BUT prosecutors routinely pick and choose what crimes to prosecute and what crimes to let go.

Whether you like it or not, some other criminal is currently not getting prosecuted in federal court while Barry is. Does it make sense? I mean, the feds could be going after the investment bankers who conspired with bond rating agencies to award AAA ratings to mortgage-backed securities that the I-bankers and ratings agencies both knew were about as valuable as a used Scratcher, but instead we get this.

Here's the Real Story: The vast majority of people in Barry's position would reach some kind of plea deal and this would never go trial, because the government has essentially unlimited resources in the context of a given criminal case and 99.9% of the citizenry does not. Ergo, they can't afford to go to trial, and they make some kind of deal. But Barry DOES HAVE, essentially, unlimited resources, and nothing better to do, so he CAN go to trial. And the government doesn't have to dismiss the case - I mean, they get paid to do this - and before long you have a dick-size contest between the defense attorney and the prosecutor and before you know it we have the spectacle of 12 hapless citizens being forced to listen to testimony about the size of Barry Bonds' testicles as part of the government's effort to get him sentenced to spend a few months in his mansion. YAY JUSTICE!!!

And then the prosecutor can go off and write his book "Busting Barry's Balls: How I Brought Down the Home Run King" and Barry can go back to being a jerk and we will forget the whole thing.

ONE FINAL NOTE: Yes, I am a Giants fan, if not a particularly huge Barry Bonds fan. I happen to STRONGLY DISLIKE Roger Clemens, but I think his upcoming prosecution for lying to Congress about whether he used steroids is just as stupid. He should be prosecuted for naming his kids Koby, Kory, Kacy, and Kody, if anything.

[*] Does it bug you when people use the word "Bay" to refer to the "Bay Area"? Like, when someone says "She's back in the Bay," I always picture the person at the bottom of the Bay, struggling for breath underwater.


Tamagosan said...

I think you summed it up when you said: YAY JUSTICE!!! I'd also add: YAY AMERICA!!!

*No, but then again I just think of "all the players' clubs in the mother-fucking Bay" line from Rappin' 4-Tay, whose cred is unchallenged IMO.

Civic Center said...

People lie in courtrooms under oath every single day that courts are in session. It's called the justice system, where two usually diametric versions of the truth are presented, and only one can actually be correct. This usually involves stretching the truth by witnesses and lawyers and police and defendants, not to mention outright lying on some people's parts.

The Barry Bonds perjury trial is grotesque and everybody involved with it should be ashamed of themselves, and that includes all the fucking sportswriters who are some of the most self-righteous hypocrites and assholes in the journalistic world.

Thank you for this rant, I feel better now, and good luck with Monster Mom.