Wednesday, June 16, 2010

United States v. Bonds: Hearsay Evidence Affirmed as Inadmissible

Evidence provided by Greg Anderson, a trainer to Barry Bonds, was affirmed as inadmissible hearsay by the 9th Circuit on Friday, June 11th.

In order to successfully convict Bonds on multiple counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice, the government needed to prove that blood and urine samples were Bonds’s. Anderson refused to testify and subsequently the testimony of BALCO Director of Operations James Valente was also excluded by the district court. The government filed an interlocutory appeal in response to these rulings.

The district court first considered the admissibility of Anderson’s statement under the hearsay rule’s exception: F.R.Ev.807, which is restricted to exceptional circumstances. This case was identified as unexceptional by the court because it involved statements made by an unavailable witness. In addition, both the district court and court of appeals found that Anderson’s statements were not trustworthy, another requirement of F.R.Ev. 807

The court next considered whether Anderson’s statements were admissible under F.R.Ev.801 (d)(2)(C) and F.R.Ev.801(d)(2)(D). Rule 801 (d)(2)(C) states that a statement is a non-hearsay party admission if it is offered against a party and is a statement concerning the subject and Rule 801 (d)(2)(D) states that a statement is not hearsay if it is offered against a party and is a statement by the party’s agent or servant concerning a matter within the scope of the agency or employment, made during the existence of the relationship. Under both rules the court of appeals upheld the rulings of the district court that Anderson’s evidence is inadmissible hearsay.

Judge Bea disagreed with the court’s rulings that Anderson’s statements were not hearsay. Judge Bea argued that for purposes of F.R.Ev.801(d)(2)(D), Anderson was an agent of Bonds and the statements he made to Valente were within his agency; and, those statements were made during the term of his agency. Additionally Judge Bea argued that Anderson was authorized to identify the samples as those of Bonds under Rule 801(d)(2)(C).

The case is United States v. Bonds, 09-10079.