Anderson-Hoskins transcript could be particularly damaging to Bonds
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston unsealed hundreds of pages of court filings
Key evidence: a conversation between Bonds' trainer and former business partner
Also included: a purportedly positive test result of Bonds' 2003 urine sample
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston unsealed hundreds of pages of court filings in the Barry Bonds' perjury case on Wednesday. Taken together, the documents appear to strengthen the government's case that Bonds knowingly used steroids.
The most important document may be the transcript of a recorded conversation between Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, and Bonds' former business partner and longtime friend, Steve Hoskins. Assuming the transcript reflects an accurately recorded conversation -- which Bonds' counsel will question, given that Hoskins, rather than a recording specialist, taped it -- Anderson tells Hoskins that he injected Bonds with substances that sound very much like steroids. Here is a particularly telling excerpt from that conversation:
Anderson: [E]verything I've been doing at this point is undetectable.
Anderson: See, the stuff that I have . . . we created it. And you can't, you can't buy it anywhere. You can't get it anywhere else. But, you can take it the day of and pee.
Anderson: And it comes up with nothing.
Hoskins: Isn't that the same [expletive] that Marion Jones and them were using?
Anderson: Yeah same stuff, the same stuff that worked at the Olympics.
Not only does Hoskins' conversation with Anderson advance the government's argument that Bonds used steroids, it also circumstantially helps to establish that Bonds knowingly lied under oath. While it is curious that Bonds would not know that Anderson repeatedly injected him with steroids, it is truly perplexing that Bonds' business partner and longtime friend would somehow know, but Bonds would not.
To be sure, it may be theoretically possible that Anderson and Hoskins were out to mislead Bonds, as both financially benefited from Bonds' on-field success. In reality, however, absent an elaborate hoax played on Bonds (and baseball and its fans), Bonds' professing ignorance as to the actual contents of Anderson's injections seems less and less believable the more those around him knew about the actual contents.
The admissibility of this potentially damning transcript is another matter, however. Bonds' counsel will argue that a transcript of a conversation between two persons who are not parties to the case, and which was made outside the courtroom, comprises hearsay -- an out-of-court statement which is presented in court to prove the truth of a matter material to the defendant's guilt or innocence. In response the government will argue that an exception to hearsay applies, most notably the "declarations against interest" exception, which in this case would reflect Anderson making a series of self-incriminating statements to Hoskins -- the logic is that Anderson would only make such statements if they were true.
Even if the transcript proves admissible, Bonds' counsel could try to diminish its persuasiveness, such as by claiming that the conversation was taken out of context, that Anderson never expressly refers to steroids or that Anderson was not truthful, perhaps because he wanted to boast of outwitting Major League Baseball's drug testing policies. Bonds' counsel might also raise question about the quality of the recording and transcription instruments, and the person(s) who utilized them.
The unsealed documents also contain a purportedly positive test result of Bonds' urine sample, which in 2003 Bonds had provided in accordance with MLB's anonymous survey testing program. Quest Diagnostics and Comprehensive Drug Testing, which had been contracted by baseball to conduct the testing, did not identify a positive result, but upon re-testing, the government did.
On one hand, the results may serve as a powerful piece of evidence for the prosecution, given that they were apparently obtained directly by the government from the MLB-contracted Quest Diagnostics. As a result, Bonds' name and identifying information were likely clearly evident (as opposed to "Barry B" from the BALCO labs). Concerns about chain of custody would thus be muted.
On the other hand, Bonds' counsel may savage the results as false positives corrupted by a second round of testing. Bonds' counsel may also question the impartiality of testing conducted by a government-retained scientist.
The net result from today's filings: The government's chances of convicting Bonds of perjury seem higher, particularly if Judge Illston admits the Anderson-Hoskins transcript in the trial.
SI.com legal analyst Michael McCann is a law professor at Vermont Law School and the distinguished visiting Hall of Fame Professor of Law at Mississippi College School of Law. He is a former chair of the Association of American Law Schools' Section on Sports and the Law.