SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds asked a federal judge to dismiss perjury charges against him Wednesday, arguing the indictment is "scattershot" and noted for its "striking inartfulness."
Bonds was charged in November with lying to a grand jury about his use of performance-enhancing drugs.
In the motion filed in San Francisco federal court, the former Giant neither admits nor denies taking the drugs but argues the questions asked by prosecutors during Bonds' December 2003 grand jury appearance were vague, ambiguous and confusing.
The lawyers said "the questions posed to him by two different prosecutors were frequently imprecise, redundant, overlapping and frequently compound."
Prosecutors asked Bonds several times whether personal trainer Greg Anderson supplied him with steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs beginning in 2000. Bonds answered "no" or "not at all," but his lawyers argued the questions were not clear.
Bonds' lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to toss the case or order prosecutors to streamline the indictment, which cites 19 different instances of Bonds' alleged lying but only charges him with four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction. Bonds, a free agent, has pleaded not guilty to four charges of perjury and one count of obstruction.
Prosecutor Matt Parrella declined comment.
Such motions to dismiss cases are frequently filed but rarely granted in federal criminal cases, but the court papers offer an early glimpse at Bonds' legal strategy. Legal experts said that prosecutors will have to prove not only that Bonds lied but that their questions in front of the grand jury were direct and open to as little interpretation as possible to convict Major League Baseball's new home run king.
Former Olympic bicyclist Tammy Thomas, who is also charged with lying about her drug use, similarly argued for dismissal of her case last year because she said that multiple alleged instances of her lying were lumped confusingly into a single charge.
Illston, who is hearing all cases related to a steroids ring based at the now-defunct Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, has not ruled on Thomas' motion. But the judge appeared skeptical of Thomas' argument during a hearing late last year.
Illston is scheduled to hear from Bonds' legal team on Feb. 29.
Bonds' lawyers wrote that "some portions of the indictment are so vague that it is simply impossible to be certain what untruths Mr. Bonds is alleged to have uttered."