While there’s no shortage of opinion regarding Barry Bonds’ conviction yesterday on obstruction of justice charges, most criticism has been aimed at the defendant or the prosecution, and not nearly as much at the news media’s coverage of the trial. And with that in mind, Hanging Sliders’ Wendy take a few shots at ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson, whose work “is so full of factual, legal and constitutional errors that it’s hard to believe any reputable news organization would publish it….I suggest that if you are suspected of committing a crime, you should hire an attorney who understands criminal, evidentiary and constitutional law better than Lester Munson apparently does.”
“The unanimous verdict that Bonds was guilty of obstruction of justice is a major triumph for federal agent Jeff Novitzky and prosecutors Jeff Nedrow and Matthew Parrella.”
Really? A major triumph? Novitzky testified at the trial that he spent countless nights rummaging through BALCO’s garbage looking for evidence of steroids production, distribution and use. He also oversaw the raids on several drug labs which had performed the “anonymous” tests on all Major League Baseball players before steroids were banned by the league. Novitzky flexed his federal investigatory muscle so far and for so long just so the government could eventually prove that Bonds answered questions evasively? As Jayson Stark (also of ESPN) wrote after the verdict was read: “So let’s get this straight. The only thing we’ve learned about Barry Bonds is that he was evasive? The government could have assembled a panel of distinguished baseball writers to convict him on that charge like 15 years ago.” It’s not a major triumph for Novitzy and the prosecutors. It’s an embarrassment.
“Any citizen who is caught up in a federal investigation is obligated to tell the truth when federal agents show up to ask questions. It is a fundamental duty of citizenship, and it is the foundation of any federal investigation.”
Wrong. When federal agents “show up” to ask questions of citizens about a federal investigation, the agents have a constitutional duty to tell these citizens if they are suspected of committing a crime, and if so, to tell these citizens that they have the right to remain silent and to be advised by a lawyer. It’s called the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination