No Sweet Deal for Lawyer Who Leaked BALCO Testimony
I'm not sure why I'm satisfied by this news, much less care, but it seems right: Troy Ellerman, the lawyer who leaked BALCO grand jury testimony to San Francisco Chronicle reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada, reached a plea agreement to serve 15-24 months for that crime and subsequently lying about it. Yesterday, federal judge Jeffrey White rejected the deal, declaring that lawyers should be held to a higher standard.
I know: what planet is that guy from?
But I say good for him. And for that matter, shame on the prosecutors for trying to get this lying, cheating sack of self-righteous vigilante crap a sweet deal. It's not that the guy even came clean, nor came forward to protect Fainaru-Wada, who was getting ready for a crossbar hotel stay of his own for refusing to reveal his source. Ellerman simply got caught.
I enjoy watching Barry Bonds doing what he can do. He's an amazing baseball talent. Whether you think he took illegal performance drugs or not is one thing, but if he did, it still wouldn't explain the best aspects of his game. He's an exceptional player. What seems to drive people nuts, sportswriters in particular, is that he doesn't care what anyone else thinks. He certainly doesn't feel obliged to help anyone capitalize on his image or achievements, especially writers in need of stories. I forget the name of the hack who writes for USA Today -- some smug shit with a contrived axe to grind -- but every time I read a Bonds article written by him, the underlying resentment is palpable. You'd think Bonds had done him some deep, personal wrong.
And I'm disgusted by Major League Baseball's retroactive moralizing on performance drugs in the game. Bud Selig is, and has always been, a tool. Three reasons come to mind: one, because he is. Just listen to the man for a few minutes. Two, because he's the only commissioner to have called a baseball game for going too long, violating a great George Will baseball truth I hold dear: there is always a winner. Three, because he was perfectly happy to ride MLB's fortunes while Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were turning baseballs into satellites at an incredible rate, and now perfectly happy to wag his finger at the player's union for what only a baseball idiot could call a revelation, that some players are doping up. Selig manages to avoid controversy by either generating it or keeping the focus on someone else. He's that nightmare fraternity brother, ready to party with you or sell you out, as the occasion warrants.
Still, it seems odd to me that more hysterically righteous contempt has been thrown at Bonds than, say, your average 42nd President. And it's simply bizarre that so many people have quietly approved of leaking grand jury testimony so a reporter can publish the truth. Since when was the public revelation of protected testimony more pressing than due process? Who got to decide it was especially important for baseball? So important, mind you, that the lawyer who created this controversy should be able to break the law, lie to federal investigators and the courts, get caught, and then plea his way to a slap on the wrist?
This is the nature of the case against Bonds. It is so clearly ruled by sentiment, it will hardly matter what truth will out. The collective animus aimed at Bonds is so intense that a lawyer will violate his trust with the court system, a journalist will shield those criminal acts with the First Amendment, even federal prosecutors will look for ways to excuse it -- because all of them feel the ends justify their means. They know in their heart of hearts that Bonds is guilty of something. They know it. It's racially-motivated doping, or wait! perjury! at least, or...dammit, something. There has to be something we can pin on him.
And here's the price to be paid: at the end of this story, wherever it might lead, Ellerman will serve significant time behind bars, as he should. Let that fact rest on Fainaru-Wada's conscience; I hope Game of Shadows was worth it. Bonds's only proven shortcomings, so far, appear to be moodiness, and a colossal failure to succumb to legal, professional, and social pressure, and courts of public opinion. He's utterly failed to give a damn for what anyone else thinks. He also has failed to test positive, provoke an indictment, or get himself charged with a crime, or be proven to have done anything wrong. He's merely gone back to work. And if he is laughing at all of this, as so many of his enemies want to imagine, even that little bit hasn't shown up.
People like Ellerman, and forces like the sportswriting media, however, demonstrate that there's no such thing as going too far when The Truth is on your side. Not sincere belief, mind you, but Truth. Apparently Bonds is ineligible for due process of law because he benefits from it, the ultimate point of our justice system. Journalists like Fainaru-Wada may therefore rely on the First Amendment, criminal sources, and prejudicial information to cast judgment, and stay home while the criminal who aided him awaits sentencing.
I'm thankful there's at least one judge who understands that the larger outcome hardly matters if the legal process becomes a switch to flip when circumstances warrant. If Bonds is guilty of something, let time and due process do their work. You can damn well bet that if nothing is ever proven, these jokers will still find all the reasons they need never to apologize for smearing his name.