There has been a new piece (or several new pieces) of information leaked about the Bonds prosecution every day this week. We’ve had the raids on the Anderson in-laws, the steroid tests, and now the latest: Bobby Estalella and the Giambi brothers are going to testify.
All of this has come from “a person briefed on the government’s evidence,” who “did not want to jeopardize his access to sensitive information.”
In other words, someone in the U.S. Attorney’s office is previewing the government’s case to reporters so as to create the impression of overwhelming evidence in the minds of the jury pool. A big reason for this is, in my view anyway, a good amount of this evidence will be excluded from trial after Bonds’ people file motions in limine (for the uninitiated, motions in limine are requests that the court exclude certain evidence from trial due to their irrelevance, inflammatory nature, or other reasons). The idea: even if the jurors don’t hear about a certain bit of evidence at trial because it was excluded, they may remember reading about it before they were selected and will carry that into the courtroom with them. Yes, attorneys try to screen for this, but it’s more of an art than a science. Someone — probably many someones — in that jury will have followed this case at least casually.
The big danger for prosecutors: I have never met a judge who enjoyed having a case tried in the media before it reaches his or her courtroom. They all saw the kind of laughingstock Lance Ito became post-O.J., and they almost always smack whichever side they believe to be sharing too much with reporters. If I were Bonds’ attorneys I’d be raising hell to the judge right now. It probably wouldn’t stop the leaks, but it could very well lay the groundwork for some favorable rulings later.