A federal appeals court today escalated the heated legal feud between the federal government and the Major League Baseball players’ union, deciding to rehear a case involving the controversial seizure of the names and urine samples of about 100 players who failed a 2004 steroids test.
In a brief order, the 9th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to rehear the case with a special 11-judge panel. The order effectively wipes off the books a divided 119-page ruling issued in January that generally sided with the Justice Department in its effort to use the test results, initially obtained in an offshoot of the Balco steroids investigation.
While it was never clear whether the test results would have any impact on the pending perjury case against former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, today’s legal development makes it even more unlikely the potential evidence could play a part in his trial, scheduled for next March. The 9th Circuit ordinarily takes months or longer to decide such appeals, and the losing side would still have the opportunity to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.