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‘Chain Of Custody’ Key In Bonds’ Case

Publication Date: 
January 14, 2009
Yahoo! Sports
Josh Peter

Professor Robert Weisberg is quoted in Yahoo! Sports in an article about Barry Bonds' upcoming perjury trial:

Before the federal government attempts to convince a jury that Barry Bonds lied under oath when he denied he knowingly used steroids, prosecutors face another challenge: proving the drug tests which were positive for steroids belong to baseball’s home run king and that the test results are reliable and relevant to the perjury trial set to begin March 2.


Because the positive drug tests represent what might be the most compelling physical evidence in the case, chain of custody figures to become a fierce battleground. But Robert Weisberg, a law professor at Stanford University, said the issue might prove less important than expected for prosecutors trying to prove Bonds lied in front of a grand jury.

“They don’t have to prove he used illegal drugs because that’s not the charge,” Weisberg said. “They have to prove he lied when he said he never used illegal drugs. I know those two are very hard to separate.

“If the chain of custody sucks completely but they find a statement in which he said to his friend, ‘God, I used that stuff and I’m afraid to get caught,’ that might establish [perjury] beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if they don’t have independent, objective proof that he used the stuff.”

Weisberg paused, considered that notion, then added, “It sure would help the prosecution to have strong chain of custody.”