Bonds files complaint to court over prosecutors' typos

Updated: February 21, 2008, 9:20 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds seized on a pair of typos, complaining in court papers Thursday that the government's mistakes could compromise his chances for a fair trial.

The typographical errors showed up in a recent filing by prosecutors wrongly accusing Bonds of flunking a drug test in 2001. They later admitted they instead meant 2000.

Baseball's home run king has pleaded not guilty to perjury and obstruction of justice charges alleging he lied when he told a federal grand jury he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs. He is asking a judge to dismiss the case, arguing the questions posed to him while under oath were ambiguous and confusing.

In a filing last week opposing Bonds' motion for dismissal, prosecutors twice referred to a drug test he failed in November 2001. They later said they meant to reference a November 2000 drug test that had previously been mentioned in the indictment.

Still, some media outlets reported that the government had procured new evidence proving Bonds had lied.

The mistakes were corrected the next day, but Bonds' lawyers argue in their response to the government's filing that the damage to the case was already done.

"As is always the case, many more prospective jurors will have read the original story than the retraction," wrote Dennis Riordan and Donald Horgan, two of Bonds' six attorneys.

Bonds' attorneys also signaled in Thursday's filing that they intend to attack the credibility of the November 2000 test results, which were seized in 2003 when the government raided the now-defunct Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO, headquarters of a drug ring that peddled steroids to numerous elite athletes.

That drug test was mentioned in the indictment unsealed in November, with prosecutors saying it was for a player they called "Barry B."

BALCO founder Victor Conte has said the test was done "quick and dirty," and there's no telling who handled Bonds' blood and urine samples during the three years between the testing and the federal raid.

Legal experts had said they expected Bonds' attorneys to question the forensic value of the test.

"Mr. Bonds vigorously disputes that the government possesses any credible or admissible evidence that he had a positive test for steroid use in either November 2000 or November 2001," Bonds' lawyers wrote.

Bonds' attorneys also hinted that transcripts of Bonds' grand jury testimony that doesn't appear in the government's indictment will bolster the slugger's defense that he didn't lie. The attorneys didn't offer any more details.

The U.S. Attorney's office declined comment Thursday. On Feb. 15, spokesman Josh Eaton said the typo was inadvertent.

Bonds' attorneys have argued the indictment is confusing because it alleges 19 separate lies but lumps them into only five charges. They also allege Bonds was asked ambiguous questions during his grand jury testimony in December 2003.

The government countered last week that Bonds was advised before he testified that he could consult his lawyer or ask for a question to be rephrased if he was confused.

"Bonds never said he was confused or asked the prosecutor to rephrase a question," the government's filing stated.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston is scheduled to hear arguments on Bonds' motion for dismissal on Feb. 29.

If Illston keeps the case alive, Bonds' attorneys have asked her to force prosecutors to pare the indictment down to one alleged lie per count.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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