There’s an article in the New York Daily News today that gives a rundown of some of the evidentiary fights the Barry Bonds prosecution and defense are having. Among them:
- Bonds’ ex-girlfriend Kimberly Bell posed in Playboy and told them her story back in 2007. The government wants Bonds barred from mentioning that and showing photos from the magazine;
- The prosecution wants Bell to testify about Bonds being mean and disrespectful to others, that his temperament changed over time and that he once threatened someone with violence;
- The government wants to present photos of Bonds from various stages of his career to show the changes in his physique; and
- The government wants the judge to disallow Bonds’ attorneys from suggesting that the government had a vendetta against Bonds and singled him out for prosecution.
Litigation is rough business, obviously, and of course each side is going to try to get in anything they can to win. But these particular evidentiary fights — however the law demands that they be decided — do paint an illuminating picture of how absurd this prosecution really is.
An allegedly key witness told her story once for profit and fame, but prosecutors want to keep anyone from using that to attack her credibility. Of course, this whole prosecution is about bringing down a famous person, so it’s amusing that Bonds probably won’t be allowed to go there.
Saying a prosecution is a vendetta or that a defendant was singled-out is generally not admissible, but it’s certainly the case that those less famous than Bonds who testified most similarly to Bonds such as Benito Santiago aren’t in the dock. There is no escaping that Bonds was singled out here — it’s probably the biggest thing animating the general zeitgeist of the thing — so, again, it’s amusing in a pathetic sort of way that Bonds probably won’t be allowed to go their either.
Evidentiary rules generally prohibit prosecutors from putting on evidence of a witness’ character when those character traits have nothing to do with the charges, but the prosecution wants to tell the jury that Bonds was a meany-head. Maybe this comes in as evidence of “roid rage,” but I don’t see how this isn’t the same thing as the prosecution telling the jury that Bonds is just a bad seed, so you probably should just convict him.
Finally, anyone who knows anything about athletes and steroids knows that it’s possible for someone to take steroids and not have dramatic changes to their physique. Indeed, we mock the sports writers who play that “that dude got huge, so he must be juicing” game. But really, that’s a big part of the prosecution’s game here. The prosecution is basically Murray Chass.
Maybe the prosecution should, legally speaking, win all of these battles. But the issues they’re raising seem to say more about the nature of the Barry Bonds prosecution than they do about whether Barry Bonds lied under oath.