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New sport, Fishing with government money, the Barry Bonds balk continues...

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Government fights to keep perjury case against Barry Bonds alive

Updated Tuesday, June 2nd 2009, 11:23 AM

Legal experts said the brief federal prosecutors filed Monday requesting a reversal of a judge's decision to bar crucial evidence from home run king Barry Bonds' long-delayed perjury trial was little more than a Hail Mary pass.

Golden Gate constitutional law professor Peter Keane said the government's filing "reeks of desperation" and predicted the feds would ultimately drop the perjury case against baseball's home run king. "With this brief, the government is postponing the inevitable," Keane said.

The brief filed by federal prosecutors is in response to a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston, who declared in February that a heap of documentary evidence seized by the government - including doping calendars, drug tests results, and log books from the BALCO lab - amounted to hearsay. Illston's ruling severely weakened the government's case against Bonds, who faces 10 counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.

"These documents tend to show that Bonds was lying when he testified in the grand jury that he did not knowingly take steroids," assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara J. Valliere wrote in a 56-page argument. "If Bonds wishes to argue that the log sheets do not reflect his urine samples, he is free to make that argument to the jury, but there is no question that this evidence meets the low standard of relevance set by the Federal Rules."

The brief has been in the works since Feb. 27, when prosecutors announced their intention to appeal just three days before jury selection was set to begin in Bonds' trial. The case continues to pivot on Bonds' former trainer, Greg Anderson, who Illston said is the only person who can verify that the evidence relates to Bonds. Nobody expects such testimony from Anderson, who has steadfastly refused to take the stand against Bonds.

Los Angeles attorney Mark Geragos, who represented Anderson, said the government's decision to appeal Illston's ruling sounded like "the dying gasps of a prosecution."

"It was bad enough for them to appeal an evidentiary ruling," Geragos said. "Those are rarely reversed. But this is the last vestige of scoundrels."

Bonds and his team of seven lawyers will have a month to respond with a brief of their own. After that, the government will have two weeks to make its final arguments before a July 15 deadline. Bonds' lead attorney, Allen Ruby, did not return a call for comment.

If the appeals court upholds Illston's decision, the BALCO prosecutors will have to decide whether to push their case forward without the evidence or else drop the case entirely after nearly six years prosecuting BALCO and a perfect record of guilty pleas and convictions.

Bonds went before a grand jury investigating BALCO in the fall of 2003 and said he had never knowingly taken performance-enhancing drugs, swearing that he thought Anderson was only giving him legal products. Keane said the BALCO prosecutors must sense that the appeal is futile.

"She (Illston) made her call and there is no way an appellate court will reverse it, especially prior to trial," he said.

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