Last night, Barry Bonds was found guilty of obstruction of justice, while the jury hung on all other counts, resulting in a mistrial as to those counts. We posted about it.
Now, I don’t expect non-lawyers to really understand what “obstruction of justice” means. I certainly don’t expect them to understand what a “mistrial” is. But I do expect anybody who has been through 1L year at an American law school to understand these concepts. I certainly expect law professors to understand these terms. And I freaking demand that legal analysts charged with making sense of this issue for ESPN — the WORLDWIDE LEADER IN SPORTS — have a basic grasp on what the hell is going on.
ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson, you, sir, have failed. Failed at your job. Failed at being a thought leader. Failed at failing in a funny, non-offensive way.
Even 1Ls won’t believe the kind of tripe Muson has been spewing on ESPN…
I’ve been listening to ESPN all morning, and at one point I had to put the television on mute because it’s hard to write when the sounds coming out of the television cause the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. Basically, a bunch of the talking heads are saying that the verdict was a “victory” for the prosecution.
Yeah, a victory. Bonds got a mistrial on the three top counts, was nailed on a fourth count that is unlikely to land him in jail, and the prosecution couldn’t prove that he lied about performance-enhancing drugs even though EVERYBODY KNOWS BONDS LIED — and there are ESPN people calling this a victory. Un-freaking-believable.
I would have chalked this up to laypeople acting like laypeople, except that every time somebody on Mike and Mike or First Take said that Bonds “lost,” they cited ESPN’s legal “expert,” Lester Munson. So I got to thinking, “what kind of legal expert is telling these people that Bonds ‘lost’ the trial,” and “is there a way I can apply for his job on ESPN?” Curious, I found this post by Lester Munson on ESPN.com. Here’s the highlight:
When the trial ended on Wednesday, however, the reasons for the prosecution were apparent. In their report to the judge, the jurors made it very clear: Bonds was guilty of a serious felony. The defense team was not victorious on even one of the four counts of the indictment. In a case that many observers expected Bonds to win, he and his lawyers went 0-for-4. There were jurors who wanted to convict Bonds on all four counts, but the jurors were unanimous only on the obstruction of justice count.
0-for-4? The defense went 0-for-4? Three mistrials and a conviction only on the bottom count and that means the defense went 0-for-4? The jurors wanted to convict him of perjury but couldn’t do it because the prosecutors couldn’t meet their burden, but the defense went 0-for-4? WHAT THE F*** IS THIS MAN TALKING ABOUT? HOW ARE WE LIVING IN A WORLD WHERE THAT’S THE MAN TELLING LAYPEOPLE HOW TO FEEL ABOUT THIS TRIAL?
It’s not all bad. ESPN has a television guy, Roger Cossack, and he’s talks like he has a basic understanding of what is going on here. The prosecution can be happy that they got some kind of conviction; the defense can be happy that they most likely kept Bonds out of jail. It might not be satisfying to lay people (especially sports fans), but there aren’t clear “winners and losers” here. This is justice, not baseball.
And one final thing: as a lawyer, one of your ethical duties today is to physically assault anyone who says anything like “Well, since there was a mistrial, the government might re-try its case against Bonds, so he’s not off the hook.” Seriously, you don’t even need to explain to lay people why that’s not going to happen. Just punch them until they figure out on their own that they must be saying something idiotic.