Home / The Ramble: Barry Bonds’ Game of Shadows Lawsuit Rejected By Judge

The Ramble: Barry Bonds’ Game of Shadows Lawsuit Rejected By Judge

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I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the Internet, and I don’t particularly care for lawyers either. But after reading and listening to the statements coming out of the Barry Bonds camp with regards to the details surrounding the Game of Shadows lawsuit, one thing is clear: the lawsuit has nothing to do with trying to prove that the drug allegations contained in Game of Shadows are false.

Bonds’ legal team filed a suit that claimed all parties associated with the book Game of Shadows should be held liable for publishing “illegally obtained grand jury transcripts.” So they are liable — not for libel — but for printing testimony from the grand jury?

When news of the suit was announced on Thursday, March 23, the statement from the Bonds camp said that Bonds “will seek andex parte application for a temporary restraining order…to obtain, in summary, disgorgement related to any profits related to or derived from the publication and distribution of the book.” In English this means that they don’t want to stop the book from being sold to the public, they just want to get all of the money that came from the book sales.

The lawsuit was filed under California’s Unfair Competition Law (CUCL).

Here’s a few interesting facts. An “ex parte application” means “from one side only with the other side absent or unrepresented.” Is it a surprise that the Bonds camp wouldn’t want to have to defend themselves against those who they are trying to silence?

CUCL is California’s most used consumer protection statute and it gets more popular each year, as it is used not only in issues of consumer protection, but in a wide range of other types of litigation. This law has been the subject of much controversy because lawyers have misused this law to extort fees from small businesses.

The following passage is from a review of CUCL done by the law firm of Stroock, Stroock & Lavan LLP.

“The reach of (CUCL) is broad and imposing…Unlike other unfair and deceptive practice statutes, intent is irrelevant since a plaintiff is not required to show that the defendant actually intended to injure anyone. (emphasis added)

This whole approach stinks, but don’t just take my word for it.

Bruce Simon, Chairman of California’s State Bar Commission’s Committee on Unfair Competition and Anti-Trust Law said in an item that appeared on ESPN.com, “It’s a very ill-conceived lawsuit. I think the judge sees that.” The judge sees that, the bailiff sees that, my bookie sees that, for crying out loud.

But the gall of lawyers can never be overestimated, as evidenced by the letter sent from Bonds’ lawyers to a U.S. District Judge that said Game of Shadows authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams should have been held in contempt of court.

Try to read this without laughing out loud.

“The true victim is not Barry Bonds, but the sanctity and integrity of the grand jury process,” Bonds’ lawyers wrote to the judge, apparently unaware of their creation of inadvertent comedy.

So now that Judge James Warren has said this suit has little chance of success since free speech protections shelter the authors and other parties from the accusations of Bonds and Company, what can we expect?

My bet is that we’ll see a lot of bluster and nonsense. The Bonds legal team will attempt to impugn the reputations of all the authors, their motives, their sources and everything else, but will not file another suit.

By challenging the use of the grand jury transcripts and not what was said in them, Bonds’ lawyers seem to confirm what most of us already know.

These lawyers must also realize that they have no shot at filing a successful libel lawsuit, or any kind of lawsuit, since Bonds will have to sit for a deposition. A deposition means that he’ll have to go under oath and answer all kinds of questions. Questions about his reported drug use, his income from sports memorabilia, his mistresses, etc. Every aspect of his life is fair game. That will never happen.

So the only thing that Bonds and the Balco Boys can do is follow Capo Conte’s edict and deny, deny, deny. And all the while, the walls will be closing in on them.

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About Sal Marinello

  • I’m a little confused, both by the title and by Bonds’ attorneys’ strategy.

    You report that the presiding judge said Bonds’ suit has little chance of success, but that is not the same as “Barry Bonds’ Game of Shadows Lawsuit Rejected By Judge.” “Rejected” suggests more a summary dismissal.

    As for Bonds’ lawyers, and I guess this goes under the category of chutzpah, is it legal to ask a judge to rule on a suit by disenfranchising the other side?

  • sal m

    the judge did reject bonds’ suit so perhaps his statement was a comment regarding any further legal action the bonds team may take.

    with regards to the “ex parte application” where the other side is not represented, i don’t know under what circumstances this is usually employed…perhaps a lawyer could explain why this is used and why the courts allow it.

  • the intense debate about barry bonds’ alleged use of performance enhancing drugs is bringing to the surface submerged racial attitudes. Sadly, Bonds is a difficult cat to defend; he’s treated so many people, from all walks of life, like trash. Nonetheless, his ability to hit a baseball is unquestionably one of the sports greatest accomplishments. Hitting a baseball takes a set of skills that drugs alone cannot supply. My wish is that people take into account that he is just one of a generation of athletes who used performance enhancements and to single him out makes me think that race is a factor in the piling on of barry bonds. Where was the outrage when Mark Mcguire became Popeye? Instead his remembered as the man who ‘saved’ baseball. Steroids or not, barry bonds is an incredible baseball player – explain how he is still turning on a baseball at 41 years old if it is just drugs?

  • sal m

    submerged racial attitudes my foot…

    bonds got caught red handed so you should deal with it. mcguire has since been shown to be a fraud and his reputation and legacy has been tarnished forever. same with sosa.

    in case you were asleep during the congressional hearings and the aftermath, mcgwire was ripped by everyone in the media, congress and the fans as a result of his testimony. what you could say is because he wasn’t a jerkoff he got the benefit of the doubt until the the truth became obvious.

    so you have a white guy, a black guy and a hispanic guy. all cheaters and all have had their reputations and accomplishments diminished.

    however, i look at it as three prominent cheaters who happen to be white, black and hispanic.

    if bonds wasn’t a dick he would have been given the benefit of the doubt, but like mcgwire his reputation would have still been adversely effected. it has nothing to do with the color of his skin.

  • I wouldn’t say “red handed,” but he assuredly is not winning any love. He’s about as close to being caught red handed as you can be without actually being caught red handed. I think he did them. In fact, I’d guarantee he did them. But for anyone to play the racial attitudes card is ludicrous. The main reason is not that we love McGwire because he’s white, it’s that McGwire is not two home runs away from Babe Ruth. Bonds is the topic and the subject of much ire because he’s CURRENT. It’s TIMELY. Oh, and we’ve had eight more years to let the subject fester. McGwire is old news, especially since his stellar performance in front of Congress, and he also doesn’t hold the record anymore.