Bonds to appear before perjury trial judge
Homerun record holder Barry Bonds is due to make an appearance
in federal court Friday on perjury charges.
Photo by Stephen Dorian Miner
By Julia Cheever
December 6, 2007
Baseball star Barry Bonds is due to make his first appearance
in federal court in San Francisco on Friday before the judge who
will preside over his perjury trial.
In an unusual procedure, Bonds will have two consecutive court
hearings instead of having the more normal schedule of having
the sessions several days apart.
First, Bonds, 43, will be arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Maria-Elena
James on the four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction
of justice lodged against him in a Nov. 15 grand jury indictment.
Immediately afterwards, and in the same courtroom, U.S. District
Judge Susan Illston will schedule a trial date. It is possible
that the judge will postpone scheduling the actual trial and instead
will set another hearing for the designation of future court dates.
Both hearings are expected to be brief.
Both will take place in Illston's courtroom on the 19th floor
of the Federal Building, to avoid logistical confusion for the
crowds of reporters and members of the public who may want to
attend the highly publicized case.
Bonds' lawyer, Michael Rains, said in a recorded media message
that he doesn't plan to make any comments before the hearings,
but said, "Barry will be in court tomorrow (Friday)."
Bonds played for the San Francisco Giants from 1993 through this
year and set a record in August as Major League Baseball's all-time
home run leader.
He is accused in the five criminal counts of lying when he denied
to a grand jury on Dec. 4, 2003, that he had been given steroids
and other performance-enhancing drugs by his trainer, Greg Anderson.
The grand jury was investigating a sports steroid scheme centered
on the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO, a Burlingame
Illston has handled eight other BALCO-related cases. In six of
those cases, defendants including Anderson and BALCO President
Victor Conte have pleaded guilty to charges related to distribution
of steroids. Their sentences ranged from probation, to, in Conte's
case, four months in prison and four months of home detention.
Still awaiting trial before Illston are championship cyclist
Tammy Thomas and track coach Trevor Graham, both of whom are accused
of perjury in the probe.
Bonds' case was originally assigned to a different federal judge,
but prosecutors requested the transfer to Illston's court. They
said in a written request for the transfer that "one of more
of the defendants in the Conte et al. matter could be witnesses
in the Bonds matter" and some of the evidence would be the
If convicted of the charges, Bonds faces a theoretical maximum
sentence of five years in prison for each count of perjury and
10 years in prison for obstruction of justice. The actual penalty
would take account of federal sentencing guidelines, however.
Doron Weinberg, a criminal defense attorney not connected with
the case, estimated that a sentence under the guidelines for all
five counts would fall between two years and two years and six
months in prison.
If Bonds were to plead guilty, the sentence might be between
10 months and one year and four months, half in custody and half
in home detention, Weinberg said.
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