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San Francisco DUI Attorney: Barry Bonds, Cross-Examination, and Drunk Driving Defense Cases

Posted on in DUI

March 28, 2011 - I spent the morning observing the perjury trial of United States of America v. Barry Lamar Bonds at the federal courthouse in San Francisco. You might wonder why a San Francisco DUI attorney would do this - what does it have to do with drunk driving defense? - so I will get to that in a minute.

Last week, Bonds’ childhood friend, Steve Hoskins, testified that baseball’s all-time home run leader was complaining about a sore rear end following needle injections at spring training in the early 2000’s. He said his shoe and glove sizes both got bigger, and that Bonds’ use of steroids was “getting out of hand." So much so, said Hoskins, that he secretly recorded trainer Greg Anderson acknowledging Bonds’ use of steroids so he could prove it to Bobby Bonds (Barry’s father who, according to Hoskins, was in denial about Barry’s use of steroids).

This morning, the first witness on the stand was Giants equipment manager Mike Murphy. Murphy testified that Bonds’ hat size increased from 7-¼ to 7-3/8, but also acknowledged that Willie Mays’ hat size also increased about the same amount after his retirement. Nobody has ever said that Willie Mays used steroids.

Then came Bonds’ former mistress, Kimberly Bell. She said that Bonds’ testicles shrinked and that he had a difficult time maintaining an erection. She said he became abusive and controlling, demanding that she account for her whereabouts down to the minute. She said he threatened to cut her head off and throw her in a ditch, and to cut her breast implants out “because he paid for them." What may have been her most convincing and damaging testimony, however, was her recount of Bonds’ explanation for an elbow injury that was not healing properly. She said the elbow injury was ugly, and that Bonds told her that his use of steroids had caused the tendons to heal too quickly.

Bonds’ lawyers have prudently decided to not contest the fact that Bonds was using steroids (no point in denying the obvious, particularly when you don’t need to). The defense is simply that Bonds did not know he had been taking steroids when he testified before the grand jury, and/or that the grand jury questions and answers were not specific enough to make out a perjury conviction.

The federal prosecutors undoubtedly recognize that most of their witnesses are troubled. Bonds life is a reminder of Eran James’ famous line from Use Me , “It ain’t too bad the way you’re using me, ‘cause I sure am using you to do the things you do." The people around Bonds seem to have used him, and Bonds seems to have used them as well. It’s a Greek Tragedy, and there is something to dislike about almost every witness who takes the stand as well as the defendant himself. This gives the defense plenty of ammunition to shoot down witnesses for having ulterior motives - it’s almost like shooting ducks in a barrel and defense attorney Christine Arguedas is obviously up for the challenge. So is the rest of Bonds’ defense team, who have arduously investigated and prepared for each of the prosecutorial witnesses.

The feds are banking on putting a lot of pieces together to demonstrate that Bonds had to know he had been using steroids when he testified before the Grand Jury. They are not relying upon a single witness or a single piece of physical evidence. Whether they can overcome their obstacles remains to be seen, but if nothing else, they have thoroughly embarrassed and shamed Bonds in this trial. That may be all they get from this jury. One thing you can probably take to the bank though - Barry Bonds will not be taking the witness stand.

So how does all of this tie in with drunk driving defense? First of all, the evidence in a DUI case typically consists of a police officer’s description of driving and field sobriety testing, and a forensic toxicologist from the Department of Justice who testifies about chemical test results, the absorption, distribution, and elimination of alcohol from the human body, and the effect of alcohol on motor skills and driving. These witnesses rarely come with the kind of baggage present in the Bonds case, and these witnesses are generally experienced at testifying in court. Secondly, in most drunk driving cases, the prosecutor gets two bites out of the apple - the accused must avoid a conviction for both (a) driving under the influence; and (b) driving with a.08 percent or higher alcohol concentration. A conviction for either offense is generally as bad as a conviction for both.

This is why DUI defense is a lot more difficult than a lot of other criminal cases, and why it is important to have experienced counsel who specializes in the field of DUI defense. You want an attorney who can realistically evaluate your case, and one who will be up for the challenge should you decide to take it to trial.

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