I’d like to talk about the obstruction of justice charge, not just in the Barry Bonds case, but about the charge in general as it’s used in our judicial system. For example take this hypothetical situation in a court setting:
Question: “What did you find out?”
Answer: “I found out I didn’t find out anything.”
Question: “Oh yah? How did you find that out?”
Answer: “I don’t know.”
Evasive answer? Maybe. Maybe not. But after years of investigation, interviews, personal vendettas and dumpster diving, the prosecutors in the Barry Bonds perjury trial ended up with obstruction of justice being the only charge that the jury found fit to find Bonds guilty of.
Our system is seriously flawed folks. What does obstruction of justice mean? It sounds to me like it means if, for whatever reason, the jury can’t find the defendant guilty of anything else, they can always charge him with obstruction of justice – meaning the defendant got in the way of a conviction on one or more of the other 75 charges.
And a jail sentence? Excuse me, but I thought jail was supposed to be a way to protect society from those persons who were so violent and corrupt they had become a danger to the rest of us. I’m understanding the new definition is that it’s now supposed to be a deterrent. Well okay. How’s that working out for you? Judge Illston got it right on this one.
A similar situation happened to a close personal friend of mine a few years ago, not at the federal level mind you, but at the local level. He won his case. He won because 1) he had a superior defense counsel, 2) the prosecutor was inept, and 3) he had a competent jury. In the situation at hand, two out of three wasn’t good enough.
Our judicial system is seriously flawed. A whopping 90% of those cases brought by the prosecutors are convictions in one way or another. In the case I’ve outlined, the prosecutors offered a “deal” to reduce all charges to one little misdemeanor if the defendant gave the word, which of course he didn’t. But that’s usually what happens. They present the court with 35 “felony” charges and then drop it to a couple of misdemeanors in exchange for information, usually to go after a bigger fish, but sometimes it’s because they know they’re going to lose the case anyhow and just want to save face. This is how they’re able to maintain their high “conviction” rate.
What a waste of taxpayer money. Why’s the federal government even involved in this case? It should be between Barry Bonds and Major League Baseball, who has finally decided to take responsibility and issue rules and regulations regarding steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.
But you know what? This is the only system we’ve got and it’s better than most of the systems in the rest of the world so we’re stuck with it. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be changed. We’ll talk about that later.
And innocent until proven guilty? The Ryan Braun situation comes to mind. We can talk about that later too.
- Barry Bonds sentenced to two years of probation and is grounded for a month (sentencing.typepad.com)