Posted: Friday April 14, 2006 2:30PM; Updated: Friday April 14, 2006 4:40PM
If Bonds is indicted, don't expect a trial to begin until next summer.
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SI.com: What will the timetable be for this grand jury?
Munson: I think they will proceed in the ordinary course, and typically a federal grand jury meets once a week and they hear witnesses on four or five different situations. They can hear three cases unrelated to BALCO and listen to evidence on Bonds for 30 minutes or an hour. If special attention is given to this case, the grand jury may spend an entire day and do only Barry Bonds. We don't know which approach the government is taking. It can be a long procedure. If, however, someone working at a high level wants to speed up the process, it can happen. I would think the grand jury finishes its work on perjury, obstruction and maybe on income tax by June, and either they will indict him or they won't by the end of June. That is my best estimate based on lots of federal cases I have watched.
SI.com: If an indictment is issued, when would a trial begin?
Munson: Bonds would have to show up in court within a matter of days, get out on bond, and then a trial on a case like this, in Northern California, will occur roughly a year after the indictment. Along the way he can plea bargain, but if there's going to be a trial, which there probably would be, it would be a year later. It would be a two- or three-week trial. It wouldn't be a long trial.
SI.com: So you believe an indictment will almost certainly lead to a trial?
Munson: Yes, based on the fact that Bonds is difficult and unwilling to acknowledge the reality of the situation. Everything in this case will have to be done the hard way.
SI.com: Are we likely to see Bonds in an orange jumpsuit after a trial?
Munson: No. There is almost zero chance that he would ever go to jail on this. He has a clean record, so that means he would be a candidate for probation if he were convicted. One way he can end up in jail is if there is a trial and he persists in making false statements in his testimony -- that would be a way he could end up doing time. Judges do not wish to listen to perjured testimony right in front of their faces. If the judge thinks Bonds has lied in his court, Bonds would face between two and six months in jail. And in this case, that could that happen. Bonds is that difficult, plus he has not had great legal representation, either, especially when you contrast his legal team with that of Kobe Bryant, for example.
SI.com: If an indictment is handed down, would commissioner Bud Selig be within his rights to suspend or censure Bonds in some way at that point?
Munson: If the league's investigation led by George Mitchell produces evidence of steroid use and if the perjury charge is related to what Mitchell finds, which is probable, then Selig would have a chance to suspend Bonds under the best-interests-of-baseball clause, which is one of his powers in the basic agreement. Selig would have a plausible case for suspension even without a conviction in court.
SI.com: At that point, would Bonds have any legal recourse against Selig ?
Munson: Yes. He would first have to go through baseball's arbitration process as a grievance procedure, and assuming he lost that, his recourse would be to go to court. But the critical point would be the grievance procedure. The arbitrator would decide 1) does Selig have the power to suspend Bonds despite the lack of a conviction? and 2) did Selig exercise his power reasonably?