Being a bad attorney isn’t obstruction of justice

United States v. Bonds, No. 11-10669 (9th Cir. Apr. 22, 2015) (en banc).

The en banc Ninth Circuit, via a summary per curiam opinion, overturns Barry Bonds’s conviction for obstruction of justice. Four concurring opinions follow the per curiam, with no concurrence commanding a majority. Even so, this case is well worth reading just for Judge Kozinski’s concurrence, in which he argues that courts must place limits on the broad sweep of the federal obstruction-of-justice statute. He argues, among other things, that an overbroad reading of the federal obstruction-of-justice statute could lead to a conviction for appellate attorneys who try to evade a hypothetical at oral argument. One wonders whether this was itself a hypothetical Judge Kozinski put to the government lawyer at oral argument.