Closing Arguments Delivered In Barry Bonds Trial

Bonds jurors are second-guessing their votes

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It’s not often that you see jurors from high-profile cases tracked down well after the case is over, but the New York Times has tracked down the jurors from the Barry Bonds case.

And guess what? Several of them are following the post-trial aspects of the case quite closely.  And whaddaya know, four of the jurors who voted to convict Bonds on the obstruction charge are uncomfortable with their verdict:

Wolfram, 25, who works with developmentally disabled adults in Concord, Calif., said four of the jurors were unsure of the wording of that charge in the first place. She said she and those other jurors noticed that Bonds in his grand jury testimony eventually answered whether Anderson had ever injected him. But he did so a few pages later in his testimony, Wolfram said, not in the section mentioned in the charge. She said she and the other three jurors thought Bonds should not be convicted if he ultimately answered the question.

She said, however, that the jury instructions — which were pretty controversial on the obstruction point and will surely form the basis of an appeal — specifically ordered the jurors to focus only on the part of the testimony highlighted by the prosecution in the indictment, and that she and the others took that to mean that they should ignore the part of the testimony a couple of pages later when Bonds actually answered the question that was asked.

Which is nuts, of course, because the law of obstruction of justice actually cares whether justice was, in fact, obstructed. It’s not about whether a specific question was answered the second it was asked.

Of course, that’s not the only source of juror dissatisfaction. Another juror thinks Bonds is getting off too easy:

“Once the trial was over, I got on the Internet and saw how much incriminating evidence was out there that we weren’t allowed to see as jurors,” Steve Abfalter, a juror from Antioch, Calif., said. “So knowing what I know now, it would be hard to handle if the conviction was thrown out because he was obviously so guilty.”

Understandable, I suppose. But the difference there is that Mr. Abfalter was properly instructed to avoid looking at stuff on the Internet that he feels was incriminating. Because we don’t try people on the Internet, we try them in a court of law. On the other hand, Ms. Wolfram and the other three jurors who were reluctant to convict Bonds on obstruction were improperly instructed to ignore actual grand jury testimony.

In each case, however, what the jurors have to say about it is legally irrelevant. Their job in this case is done and their feelings on the matter have no bearing on what happens next.

So, what happens next? Judge Ilston will have everyone — except the jurors that is — back in court on Friday in order to see what, if anything, should be done with this verdict.  Bonds’ lawyers will ask that it be set aside, but given that the reason for doing so would be rooted in their objection to the jury instructions Ilston herself gave the jury, it’s doubtful she’d actually do it.  That seems to be a matter for the appeals court.

More pressing at the moment will be the decision of the prosecution as to whether to re-try Bonds on the perjury counts on which the jury was unable to reach a verdict.  Also, assuming everything stands as-is, the judge will set a sentencing date for Bonds. A date which will likely be more months into the future than total time Bonds will actually be sentenced to. Which is fun.

Minor League Baseball established a political action committee to fight paying players more

DURHAM, NC - JULY 28:  The Chicago White Sox play the Most Valuable Prospects during the championship game of the 2011 Breakthrough Series at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on July 28, 2011 in Durham, North Carolina.  Most Valuable Prospects won 17-2 over the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
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Josh Norris of Baseball America reports that Minor League Baseball has established a political action committee to continue fighting against a lawsuit brought by a group of former minor league players seeking increased wages and back pay.

You may recall that, earlier this year, two members of Congress — Republican Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and Democrat Cheri Bustos of Illinois — introduced H.R. 5580 in the House of Representatives. Also known as the “Save America’s Pastime Act,” H.R. 5580 sought to change language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In doing so, minor leaguers wouldn’t have been covered under a law that protects workers who are paid hourly. Minor League Baseball publicly endorsed the bill. Bustos withdrew her support after receiving widespread criticism.

The whole thing started when Sergio Miranda filed a lawsuit in 2014, accusing Major League Baseball teams of colluding to eliminate competition. The lawsuit challenged the reserve clause, which binds minor leaguers into contracts with their teams for seven years. That suit was dismissed in September 2015. However, another lawsuit was filed in October last year — known as Senne vs. the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball — alleging that minor leaguers were victims of violations of state and federal minimum wage laws. Senne et. al. suffered a setback this summer when U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco dismissed class certification. That essentially meant that the players could not file a class-action lawsuit. As a result, the players’ legal team led by Garrett Broshuis amended their case to only include players who play in one league for an entire season. As Norris notes, that means that the included players’ experiences are uniform enough for inclusion in a class-action lawsuit.

So that’s why Minor League Baseball established a political action committee (PAC). A PAC, for the unfamiliar, is an organization created with the intent of raising money to defeat a particular candidate, legislation, or ballot initiative. In other words, they’re getting serious and want Capitol Hill’s help.

Minor League Baseball president Stan Brand said, “Because of procedurally what has happened in the Congress and the difficulties in getting legislation, we’ve got to adjust to that. We were lucky. We had the ability because of the depth of the relationships and involvement in the communities to not have to worry about that. And now we do, I think. The PAC . . . gives us another tool to re-enforce who we are and why we’re important.”

Norris mentions in his column that Phillies minor league outfielder Dylan Cozens received the Joe Baumann Award for leading the minors with 40 home runs. That came with an $8,000 prize. Cozens said that the prize was more than he made all season. The minor league regular season spanned from April 7 to September 5, about six months. Athletes aren’t paid in the other six months which includes offseason training and spring training. They are also not paid for participating in instructional leagues and the Arizona Fall League. Minor leaguers lack union representation, which is why their fight for fair pay has been such an uphill battle.

Report: White Sox, Nationals making “strong progress” on a Chris Sale deal

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox deliivers the ball against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field on September 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the White Sox and Nationals are making “strong progress” on a trade involving ace Chris Sale. Most reports coming out on Monday night suggest that a deal isn’t likely to be consummated until Tuesday at the earliest.

Sale, 27, has pitched in the majors over parts of seven seasons. He owns a career 74-50 record with a 3.00 ERA and a 1,244/260 K/BB ratio in 1,110 innings. The lefty will earn $12 million in 2017, then has a club option for 2018 worth $12.5 million with a $1 million buyout as well as a 2019 club option worth $13.5 million with a $1 million buyout. Relative to what he would earn if he were a free agent today, Sale’s remaining salary is a bargain.

The Nationals would likely have to part with several of their top prospects. MLB Pipeline lists pitcher Lucas Giolito, outfielder Victor Robles, and pitcher Reynoldo Lopez in the club’s top-three.

Adding Sale would arguably give the Nationals claim to the best starting rotation in baseball as he would join 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

There are other teams in the mix for Sale. The Red Sox and Astros have also talked with the White Sox about the lefty’s services.