- Associated Press - Thursday, August 16, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Barry Bonds‘ lawyers filed their reply brief Thursday in their appeal of his obstruction of justice conviction, arguing it should be overturned.

The next step is for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to set a date for oral arguments in the case of the career home run leader. A hearing before a three-judge panel is likely late this year, with a decision possible in 2013.

A jury in April 2011 found Bonds guilty on the obstruction count, which stemmed from his statement to the grand jury that he was a “celebrity child.” The jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on three counts charging him with making false statements to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs and testified he allowed only doctors to inject him. The government then dropped the other charges.

“The district court’s instructions on the (obstruction) offense were plagued by error,” Bonds‘ lawyers wrote.

Bonds‘ lawyers claim, among other things, his answer was not material to the grand jury that was investigating the illegal distribution of performance-enhancing drugs, that the answer was truthful but unresponsive and that Bonds answered a similar question later in his testimony.

In their brief last month, prosecutors claimed Bonds‘ response was intended to mislead the grand jury and the conviction should be upheld.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston’s jury instructions on the obstruction charge said that for the jury to find Bonds guilty, the government had to prove he gave “material testimony that was intentionally evasive, false or misleading.”

On the count Bonds was convicted, Bonds was asked whether Greg Anderson, his personal trainer, ever gave him “anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?”

Bonds referred to his father, major leaguer Bobby Bonds, when he responded “that’s what keeps our friendship. You know, I am sorry, but that _ you know, that _ I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a famous father. I just don’t get into other people’s business because of my father’s situation, you see …”

“The government’s responding brief is an impressive work of misdirection and artful framing,” Bonds‘ lawyers wrote, adding: “although the obstruction statute has existed for nearly two centuries, the government cannot point to a single case where a defendant has been found guilty of obstruction based on truthful testimony under oath.”