Government decides to file superseding indictment vs. Bonds
SAN FRANCISCO -- Federal prosecutors said on Wednesday they would seek a new indictment against U.S. baseball home run king Barry Bonds after previous perjury charges were recently thrown out.
T.J. Quinn's analysis
By seeking a superseding indictment, the government is adding more counts to its indictment against Bonds. This does not mean there will be new charges that weren't listed originally.
The problem with the first indictment, according to Judge Susan Illston, was that the government included multiple charges in each count. The first of the five counts, for example, contained five different instances in which the government says Bonds committed perjury. If the U.S. Attorney's office wanted to pursue charges on all five instances, it should have made each one into a separate count.
In her March 4 order, Illston gave the government the option of either resubmitting the counts they had without the extra examples, or seeking a superseding indictment to include additional charges. They chose to seek a superseding indictment, which means they went back to a grand jury.
It is possible they empaneled a new grand jury, but far more likely that they went to an existing grand jury on another case and asked it to take the examples packed into the original indictment and make them their own charges.
Prosecutors could come back with 19 counts, or leave out some lesser counts and go with their strongest examples.
It is also possible that the government went to a grand jury with new evidence to seek new charges. One veteran attorney said he found that possibility unlikely, but he has no knowledge of the government's plans.
-- T.J. Quinn
In a superseding indictment, the government can add more counts to its indictment against Bonds, but he won't necessarly face additional charges that weren't listed in the original indictment.
After years investigating performance-enhancing drug use in professional sports, prosecutors suffered a setback on Feb. 29 when federal Judge Susan Illston ruled the government made overly broad arguments in its four perjury counts.The judge agreed with Bonds' lawyers that the charges were duplicitous, meaning they improperly included two or more offenses in a single count. The government could tailor new charges more narrowly to avoid that issue in the future. The government maintains Bonds lied in 2003 when he told a federal grand jury investigating the BALCO nutrition lab he had never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs. Last December, the former San Francisco Giant pleaded not guilty. Lawyers are due back in court on Friday to discuss the next steps in the case.
Information from ESPN investigative reporter T.J. Quinn and Reuters is included in this report
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