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Keeping baseball legal

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An Indianapolis sports law attorney who was on the prosecution’s legal team at the start of the baseball steroid case against Barry Bonds recently witnessed the final “at bat” for the prosecution and defense in a California courtroom.

Attorney William Bock III of Kroger Gardis & Regas traveled to the Northern District of California in San Francisco in March for the trial of the 46-year-old baseball player accused of lying to a grand jury about whether he used steroids or growth hormone during his career.

bock-william-bondsstory-15col.jpg Attorney William Bock III in Indianapolis serves as general counsel for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. He traveled to California for part of the recent steroid-use trial against baseball player Barry Bonds. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

A seven-time most valuable player in Major League Baseball’s National League, Bonds last played for the San Francisco Giants in 2007 and broke Hank Aaron’s career home run record with 762. But this federal case has tarnished his career and helped dub the last decade as the steroid era in sports.

“This all brought a lot of attention to the problem of drugs in sports and has led to more resolve in the profession and sports generally,” said Bock.

The three-week trial in March concluded a long process by federal prosecutors working to prove that Bonds used steroids during his baseball career and then lied about it under oath.

Prosecutors obtained one conviction on obstruction of justice, the result of Bonds giving intentionally evasive, false, or misleading statements while testifying before a grand jury investigating the performance-enhancing drug use in 2003. Jurors determined that Bonds went out of his way to avoid answering the question of whether his personal trainer at the time had ever injected him.

U.S. Judge Susan Illston declared a mistrial on the other three counts Bonds faced that alleged he lied to a grand jury when he said he never used drugs. Bonds faces a possible sentence of 10 years in federal prison, but he is expected to receive a lighter penalty. A sentencing hearing will be held later this year.

No decision has been made on retrying Bonds on those other counts.

“This case is about upholding one of the most fundamental principles in our system of justice — the obligation of every witness to provide truthful and direct testimony in judicial proceedings,” U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag in San Francisco said in a statement about the case. “In the United States, taking an oath and promising to testify truthfully is a serious matter. We cannot ignore those who choose instead to obstruct justice.”

Bock’s involvement stemmed from his role as general counsel for the Colorado-based U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, where he has served as general counsel since September 2007. The USADA is an independent entity that investigates and prosecutes drug use cases in Olympic and Paralympic sports. Bock has represented the agency when athletes have been accused of violating sport drug testing rules.

Bock’s work put him in the pages of a best-selling non-fiction book published in March 2006 – “Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports.” The authors, two San Francisco Chronicle sport reporters, interviewed Bock for the book.

“Bill is well-schooled on what this is all about and was critical in getting this to where we are today,” said Mark Fainaru-Wada, one of the book’s two authors who covered the Bonds trial and met with Bock while he was in California. “He has the vantage point that others don’t and knows all the players and strategy at the heart of these cases.”

Specifically, Bock represented Dr. Larry Bowers, one of the prosecution’s early key witnesses who testified about the drugs at issue in the case. Bowers was asked as a private citizen to go on the raid that was a precursor to the trial, and the government has relied on his expertise through the years.

“My role was to prepare him and anticipate the questions he might get while on the stand, and I basically got a sense of where the case was headed based on the sorts of questions being asked,” Bock said.

The case started strong, with his client’s testimony being one of the key points closing out that first week, Bock said. But some conflicting testimony later in the proceedings from the defense proved to be a difficult hurdle to overcome, leading to the judge’s mistrial ruling on three of the counts.

Bock said he found one of the most interesting parts of the trial to be the discussion about a side effect of steroid use on a person’s temperament, known as “Roid” Rage – a condition that had been associated with Bonds. The lead defense attorney wanted Bowers to testify that it is difficult to be clear about correlation the data shows between when episodes of anger occurred and when Bonds took the drugs. That, however, proved counterproductive. Instead, Bock’s client testified that there is a correlation between those periods.

“That was a situation where the cross examiner just wished he hadn’t asked the question, because he got an answer he didn’t expect,” Bock said. “That was one of the moments where you just have to smile.”

Bock said that some reporters attending the trial told him it seemed more like biology class than a courtroom baseball legal drama, but they agreed that his client held his own while on the stand.

“He laid the framework for the government to prove its case later on,” he said.

The Bonds trial was the last case in a long line of litigation related to the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative that Bock has been involved with through the USADA. Overall, the USADA was involved in litigation involving 24 athletes. The last of the USADA BALCO cases ended in mid-March, when track and field coach and agent Mark Block received a 10-year USADA suspension from all coaching and representation of athletes for violating anti-doping rules by administering and supplying what’s known as “the clear” and “the cream.”

Bock has been involved in cases that haven’t included lab-result evidence, and the USADA had to use photo or non-scientific information to prove its cases – setting new legal ground. But the Bonds case, he said, was the most high profile and interesting, in part, because of its unique approach.

“This differed from our cases on the standpoint that many of the athletes we’ve dealt with were involved firsthand, not like Bonds who was insulated through someone else. That made his case more difficult to prosecute,” Bock said. “From our perspective, this is a great victory for clean sports. Hopefully, it’s another example that if a federal agent asks you questions, you’d better be truthful. This all brought a lot of attention to the problem of drugs in sports, and has led to more resolve in the profession and sports generally.”•

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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