Robert Sherwin, director of advocacy programs and a professor in Texas Tech University's School of Law, teaches sports law and has more than a passing interest in baseball.
"The reason this is a difficult case for the government is that Barry Bonds has denied that he ever knowingly took steroids. Essentially, he's claiming that when he was questioned before the Grand Jury, he told the truth - because to him, the truth was that he didn't juice," Sherwin said. "He says that he thought he was taking flax seed oil and arthritis balm, and not steroids. So to win, the government needs to prove that he knowingly lied to the grand jury. If he didn't know he was lying, he can't be guilty of perjury."
Sherwin added that it would be easy for the government to prove Bonds knew he took steroids - and thus knew he lied to the grand jury - if they had the cooperation of Greg Anderson, Bonds' trainer who allegedly administered the steroids regimen to Bonds. But Anderson refuses to testify, which not only means the jury doesn't get to hear that testimonial evidence come out of Anderson's mouth, but it also means that the prosecution can't use the physical evidence that Anderson turned over, like the private drug tests and doping calendars he kept.
"But the government isn't necessarily dead in the water," Sherwin said. "They have more than 50 witnesses who will all testify, in one way or another that Bonds knew he was taking steroids."
Ultimately, Sherwin said, it will likely come down to a he said/she said type of case, where the jury will have to weigh the credibility of the witnesses. The jury will also focus heavily on the exact wording of the questions asked of Bonds during the Grand Jury proceeding and the exact wording of Bonds' answers.
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