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December 7, 2011

Defense team for Barry Bonds urges sentence of home confinement

As detailed in this local article, which is headlined "Barry Bonds' lawyers seek home confinement," the first filing for the upcoming federal sentencing of Barry Bonds was submitted yesterday. Here are the particulars:

Barry Bonds' lawyers asked a federal judge Tuesday to sentence him to home confinement for obstruction of justice in his testimony about steroids, saying Bonds has a laudable but little-known record of public service and should be sentenced no more severely than other sports figures.

The former Giants star, baseball's all-time home run leader, was convicted in April of trying to thwart an investigation into steroid distribution by giving evasive answers to a federal grand jury in 2003. The jury deadlocked on three charges that Bonds committed perjury in denying he had knowingly used steroids, and prosecutors have decided not to retry him.

Defense lawyers plan to appeal the conviction. In the meantime, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston of San Francisco is scheduled to sentence Bonds on Dec. 16 and could send him to prison for a year or more - but is unlikely to do so, based on her sentencing in earlier cases.

For example, as Bonds' lawyers noted Tuesday, Illston sentenced former cycling champion Tammy Thomas to six months of house arrest for four convictions of lying about steroids. The judge gave track coach Trevor Graham a year of home confinement for a perjury conviction after evidence that he had supplied drugs to athletes.

A court-appointed probation officer has recommended that Bonds be given probation and home confinement for some period below six months, and Illston should follow that proposal, defense lawyer Allen Ruby said. He did not specify the recommended period and said the officer's report was confidential.

"Mr. Bonds does not dispute that he was convicted of a serious offense," Ruby said. But he cited the probation officer's conclusion that his conviction appears to be "an aberration when taken in context of his entire life."

Prosecutors have not yet submitted their sentencing recommendation....

In Tuesday's filing, Ruby said Bonds should be given credit for "charitable and civic contributions" that "have taken place away from the public eye." He quoted a letter to the court from a nurse at UCSF Children's Hospital, where a new family playroom bears Bonds' name.

Bonds has made numerous "unannounced and unpublicized visits" and is "always unfailingly kind and attentive to the many young children who flock to his side," the nurse said. "Frequently he will go to the bedside of a particularly ill child and gently give him/her words of encouragement to 'never give up.' "

Because I suspect Barry Bonds' residence is pretty darn nice, I am wondering what I might do to get sentenced to home confinement at the Bonds residence.  All kidding aside, I wonder if readers think a home confinement sentence is generally less appropriate for a defendant like Bonds who (a) has a really nice home, and (b) likely is happy to stay out of the public eye.  A number of interesting recent law review articles are debating the theoretical significance of the subjective experience of punishment, and I would be especially eager to hear how folks interested in this issue think through the Bonds case.

December 7, 2011 at 08:48 AM | Permalink


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Perhaps, given his funds, he can be given the option of house arrest if he provided the funds to stay in a plebeian abode somewhere. This can include you know only basic cable or whatever -- seriously, limited amenities, not akin to sending a kid to his/her well stocked play/bedroom.

Posted by: Joe | Dec 7, 2011 9:11:52 AM

That's quite the evidence of Bonds's extensive charitable works -- a letter from a nurse stating, "oh, yeah, Barry visits sick kids here, although no one else is aware of it." Very convincing.

Posted by: Another NYC lawyer | Dec 7, 2011 9:41:43 AM

Basic question: Why in the first place are the feds interedted if Bonds took steroids or not...There are enough CongressMan that have screwed up with the affairs... They need to keep their own house clean and let baseball take care of baseball.....They certainly must have have better things to do than chase Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds and Marion Jones type....My .02 worth..

If that money was spent on raids over the mexican border to get drug Cartel, then we would be doing something....Otherwise its just federal fluff..

Posted by: Josh2 | Dec 7, 2011 11:23:14 AM

Home confinement sentences have always been of dubious value--home confinement in a "gilded cage" is a joke and exactly what a recluse like Bonds would prefer.

Posted by: mjs | Dec 7, 2011 3:34:45 PM

I have never seen it employed but Application Note 2 to U.S.S.G. 5F1.2 provides: "If the court concludes that the amenities available in the residence of a defendant would cause home detention not to be sufficiently punitive, the court may limit the amenities available."

Posted by: Clint | Dec 7, 2011 6:14:55 PM

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