Topic: Professions & Institutions

Message from Barry Bonds’ Lawyer

The people who concoct tortured reasons to cheer Barry Bonds seldom mention Greg Anderson, whose conduct and relationship with Bonds constitutes the most compelling circumstantial evidence that the soon-to-be home run champion is a despicable cheat. Anderson is in jail at the moment, not for his own use and distribution of steroids (yes, he has been convicted of these ) but for defying a federal grand jury investigating Bonds. Understandably, it wants Anderson to explain drug calendars and other documents with Bonds’ name that were seized from Anderson’s home in 2003. Anderson, who is one of Bonds’ few lifetime friends and was his personal trainer before and during his alleged steroid use, refuses to testify about his buddy, client and fellow felon.

Gee, I wonder why? By all accounts, Anderson really is a loyal and devoted Bonds ally. Don’t tell the Scoreboard that there isn’t any honor among thieves. On the other hand, don’t claim that there is any mystery as to why Anderson would rather rot in jail than testify about what his famous friend knew about his chemical supplements and when he knew it. Although… if you listen closely to Mike Rains, Bonds’ lawyer, there may be a bit more to Anderson’s sacrifice than pure friendship. Here he is, quoted by USA Today…

“I just hope when Greg gets out, Barry takes care of him (financially). That’s up to Barry, of course, but Greg deserves that. He has suffered enough.”

Did you get that? Message to Greg Anderson: Just hold on and keep your mouth shut, and Barry will make sure you’re set for life. Heck, the man has millions of dollars he can’t begin to spend, and thanks to you, he has the record he set out to break. You’ve taken care of him, and kept him from being suspended, humiliated and prosecuted. I can’t tell you what that’s worth in dollars to Barry, but trust me: it’s a lot.

Rains couldn’t be this direct, of course. Promising a pay-off for a witness to spit in the eye of a grand jury is a crime, so Rains just “hopes” Barry will take care of him, though “of course” it’s up to Barry. But Anderson, a convicted criminal who has had a lot of experience with lawyers, knows that one of the functions of lawyers is to advise their clients; this is why lawyers are also called “counselors.” Rains may not have promised a pay-off, but he did make a public statement asserting that he will advise Bonds to follow through on one—assuming Anderson stays in jail and, presumably, refuses to testify.

Rains’ statement is undeniably clever and deft, as it carefully avoids verbal landmines that could trigger legal and ethical sanctions. The American Bar Association’s Model Rule 3.4, “Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel” states that it is a violation of professional ethics standards for a lawyer to…

(a) unlawfully obstruct another party’s access to evidence… A lawyer shall not counsel or assist another person to do any such act;

(b) … counsel or assist a witness to testify falsely, or offer an inducement to a witness that is prohibited by law…

And the ABA’s Rule 8.4, “Misconduct,” says that a lawyer shall not…

(d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice

The Scoreboard has very little doubt that Rains’ statement violated these ethical standards and that it did so willfully, to help ensure that his client’s closest associate would continue to impede the grand jury inquiry. The Scoreboard also recognizes that Rains’ choice of words leaves him sufficient room to deny that this was his intent. “It is not unethical to hope for something,” he can argue to any bar inquisitor, “or to express an opinion about what someone deserves.” How true. But Rains knows he was doing more than that. It just can’t be proven.

Rains further insulated himself from sanctions with his other remarks to USA Today. “Everyone thinks the reason Greg is not talking is because he would implicate Barry,” he said. “That’s absolutely wrong. If Greg talks to the feds, he would tell them the same thing, ‘I never gave Barry any steroids. I gave him flaxseed oil.’ The feds don’t want to hear that.” Now, this statement literally makes no sense. Anderson is being jailed because he won’t testify against Bonds, but Rains says that if he did testify his statements would support Bonds? Then why would Anderson, Bonds’ pal, prefer jail to testifying? Why is his refusal to help Bonds with his testimony worthy of Bonds’ financial support? If the Feds really fear what Anderson would say so much, why are they trying to make him testify? Or if Rains is suggesting that Anderson is being jailed to stop him from testifying, why isn’t his lawyer (celebrity super-lawyer Mark Gallegos) getting him out of jail immediately?

Rain’s comments about what Anderson would tell the grand jury are so ridiculous that The Scoreboard believes they could have only three possible objectives:

  • To use double-talk to confuse readers who aren’t paying close attention ( a favorite ploy of politicians);
  • To provide cover for his veiled promise to Anderson that Barry will come through with hush money; or
  • To convince the world that Barry Bonds is represented by a babbling idiot.

Needless to say, the third objective is not as likely as the first two.

Mike Rains’ message to Greg Anderson is, as ethics violations go, the perfect crime, just as Bonds’ carefully orchestrated cheating to become the uber-slugger has been a perfect crime, at least so far. Sadly, Rains’ conduct aroused no public indignation at all, because the public long ago stopped expecting lawyers to play fair, talk straight, and display integrity and respect for rules and laws. And thanks to Barry Bonds and others, professional athletes may soon reach the dreaded point where the public regards them as no more admirable than lawyers.

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