Ryan Braun Did Not Get Off On A Technicality

First of all, “technicality” is a bullshit term coined by prosecutors who screwed up.  It is designed to make people think that justice has been cheated and that if only we didn’t have all of this draconian due process making their lives difficult we would not have any crime at all.

It’s not a legal term and to some extent it means whatever the hell you want it to mean, but in the conventional sense of the word (with the facts as we know them) Ryan Braun did not escape a 50 game suspension on a technicality.  Here’s why.


Let’s say that you’re driving around with a bag of cocaine in your trunk.  You’re also wearing a Minnesota Vikings knit cap.  A cop, who also happens to be a Packer fan pulls you over despite the fact that you were going the speed limit, all your lights work, etc.

The cop decides to give you a really hard time and searches your car.  He does so with no probable cause and no warrant, but he finds your cocaine. Oh, and his dash cam records the whole thing while your iPod gets all the audio.

At trial, it is clear from the tape that you are guilty, however it is equally clear that the cop in question violated your 4th amendment rights and the judge excludes your giant bag of cocaine, the video, etc.  With no evidence you go free.

This, I contend, is a technicality.  We have excellent evidence that you are guilty, however, because the state abused its authority in trying to put you away, we exclude perfectly good evidence (and we know it’s good as we have video, a fine chain of custody, etc.), because the state was morally and legally wrong in their tactics.


You are driving along at night when all of a sudden an ocelot cuts in front of your car.  It’s pretty large and you swerve out of the way.  A cop sees your erratic driving and pulls you over at which point he administers a field sobriety test.  You pass, however he still wants more testing as he thinks you are hopped up on goof balls.   The cop takes you to the station.  At the station you pee in a cup in front of a nurse and the sample is sent off (with a few other samples of people who were also picked up that night) to a lab for analysis via courier.

The courier gets to the building he thinks is the lab however, being a courier, he’s stoned out of his gourd and mistakes a bank next door for the lab.  The bank is closed so he takes the samples home with him for the weekend figuring he will deliver them on Monday.  When he gets home he sets his backpack down on the floor where it sits for two days wedged comfortably between the radiator and the courier’s smoldering bong, except for a brief period on Saturday night when, during a raging kegger, a few of the courier’s friends set out some of the samples as part of their beer pong* pyramid.  While never confirmed, there is speculation that said samples may have needed “replacing” when one of the party-goers “got hot” and managed to hit dead center on several consecutive shots, resulting in the standard beer pong penalty.

On Monday he delivers the samples, however his little side trip is discovered and the judge throws out your case because, as he states in his opinion:

“Couriers, while on their trusty bicycles, outdoors or in their original location or terminus, are perfectly fine methods of conveyance, however evidence which, even for brief moments, is exposed to a courier’s residence must be looked upon with great skepticism.  If I was relying on a courier to safeguard a knife or a gun and he took it home for the weekend, I would not be surprised on Monday to find the weapon replaced with a NES light zapper or a set of Nerf Fencing, and here we are talking about large, tangible objects.  With something as delicate as hermetically sealed organic samples it would be miraculous if, on Monday, the courier actually managed to emerge with some form of liquid at all. This court will not subject the defendant to such uncertainties where his very liberty is at stake.”


And there’s your key difference.  Technicalities check totalitarianism. They punish the state for acting too much like a military dictatorship.  For breaking the rules the protect people from overzealous officers.

In Braun’s case, the “technicality” actually calls into question the evidence itself.  We do not know if he actually took any steroid (or anything else) because his sample is, frankly, garbage.

As the facts currently stand, the only things we have solid evidence for are the lack of proper procedures at MLB’s testing facilities.


*Some people call this “Beirut”.  They are wrong.

10 thoughts on “Ryan Braun Did Not Get Off On A Technicality

  1. Pingback: Time to pile on MLB | Brewers! Brewers! Keep Turnin' Up the Heat!

  2. I knew the reaction to them messing up the test would piss me off, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying. He passes every test for 5 years, MLB messes up a test, and it comes up positive. What logical leap to you have to make to claim that Braun “probably/obviously/likely took PEDs” based on what we know?

    Also, I’ve never seen an ocelot – heard their tufted ears and spots are pretty cool.

  3. Great stuff, buddy.

    One alternative for the Technicality Scenario, only because it bothers my Constitution-lovin’ brain when people talk about the Fourth Amendment like its an annoying loophole and not one of the bedrocks of civilized society (and just so everybody’s clear, I’m not saying badgernoonan holds this opinion, because I know he doesn’t):

    Say you get popped for drunk driving. (Relatedly: don’t drink and drive. It’s dumb.) You give a breath sample which shows your blood-alcohol concentration is .16, two times the legal limit.

    There’s a law in Wisconsin that says those breathalyzer machines have to be calibrated every 120 days, and if they’re not, the breath results aren’t admissible in court. (That’s a vast oversimplification, but you get the idea.) So if we go to court on your OWI, and the prosecutor has documents that show — whoops, we forgot the old children’s rhyme re: 30 days hathing September, et al, and missed the calibration deadline by a day, and sunofagun, we can’t introduce the breath test results, you win your case on a technicality. (Probably; the prosecutor wouldn’t have to dismiss under these circumstances, but without her best evidence, it’d be hard not to.)

  4. It is not clear whether or not a urine sample would be any more or less likely to be tampered with depending when its shipped. I argued that a person bent on tampering with a urine sample could accomplish the goal whether its held for four hours or four days. Thus, the shipping time specs purpose is to assure that the sample itself is not compromised by an unnecessary delay in shipping. MLB addresses the tampering issue by providing seal proof containers with the major league player’s signature attached. The lab receiving lab would have been required to reject the sample had its been tampered with. Even if a person held a sample for 365 days, MLB has a system in place that would prevent anyone from tampering with the sample. While the sample itself may be questionable during shipping, the donor is not. Thus, the urine put in the sample container was in fact the same urine Ryan Bruan put in it. Since, Ryan Bruan makes no argument that the delay in shipping compromised the sample itself, the suspension should have been upheld. Unless Ryan Bruan or anyone else can reasonable explain how the sample collector tampered with the seal proof sample then he is should be serving a 50 game suspension. Please note, that such an argument invalidates the entire urine sample process, because it would be proven that a sealed container with a signature attached could be compromised. I assume that every dirty player will make such a claim for hereon.

    • As long as they use authentic Rubbermaid containers in their courier’s unrefrigerated basements in the future instead of cheap knock-offs I think the program will work fine.

    • He doesn’t have to argue that. All he has to argue is that there’s no way they can prove that particular sample is really his. Absolutely anything could have happened between when he peed in a cup and something showed up at a lab. I know this is hard for people to grasp – but there is no evidence in the case.

      Something isn’t evidence if you can’t demonstrate that it came from Point A to Point B. Otherwise, I could submit a knife from your lunch this afternoon as proof you murdered my uncle in February.

      If you think otherwise, it’s just because you’re hopped up on accusations and not thinking clearly about the ramifications of these rules.

      Did Braun take PEDs? We’ll never know because MLB is a pack of retards that don’t know how to do basic evidence collection. It’s MLB’s fault from top to bottom; Braun has nothing to do with this fiasco.

  5. I am ceaselessly amazed at how many people are jockeying for a conviction on this issue. If they could charge Braun on that kind of legal non-evidence, then every single baseball player would be up a creek, since their guilt/innocence is not under their control, but rather under the control of couriers and MLB.

    This is why the justice system is so strict on chain-of-custody. Without it, you’re at the mercy of whoever wants to falsify evidence against you. I mean, I could construct a whole set of murder evidence to convict my daughter of murdering Joan Benet Ramsey; I’ve got all the DNA right here in the house. Without a chain-of-custody establishing that the ‘evidence’ comes from the crime scene: Easy! Collect. Submit. Voila! Guilt!

  6. Pingback: The Braun Challenge | Ron Roenicke Stole My Baseball

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