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Ahead for Bonds: Courtroom Circus

Posted on Dec 11, 2007

On Dec. 4, 2003, Barry Bonds walked into a grand jury room on the 17th floor of the Philip Burton Federal Building here and gave three hours of testimony about his alleged steroid use.

Today, he returns to the building as the government begins its case to prove he committed perjury.

Bonds will appear this morning in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James and then U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in Courtroom 10, two floors above where he gave his original testimony.

Bonds, who faces four counts of perjury and one count for obstruction of justice, will be arraigned before James and then have a trial date set by Illston. The proceedings are expected to be short.

Bonds is expected to enter a not-guilty plea, then hear when U.S. vs. Bonds really gets started.

The scene inside will be limited to a small group of credentialed media members and citizens who line up early this morning to get one of the 30 seats available to the public. There will be no cameras inside the federal building, and Bonds' attorneys probably will do their best to keep Bonds from being seen entering the building.

How Bonds' attorneys handles today could be the biggest story of the hearings. Bonds' attorney blasted the prosecutors after the indictment was handed down last month. If he backs off accusations that the government has conspired against his client, it may be a sign he's ready to reach a deal with the prosecutors.

"One thing to watch is if they are still going to take this very aggressive adversarial tone about the prosecution that it's evil and all a big plot against Bonds." said a law professor at Golden Gate University who has followed the case closely. "That's what they've been saying up until now.

"If you see a more moderate tone taken by Bonds' lawyers, that's a tip-off that they want to talk to the prosecution and explore some things, possibly a plea bargain."

Bonds and his attorney had been interviewing attorneys to lead his defense, and late last night, the San Jose Mercury News reported Bonds had added two new attorneys to his legal team. The two new attorneys have extensive federal experience. Neither could be reached for comment late last night.

Illston will consider the defense's desires when making the trial date. Because the 43-year-old slugger still wants to play baseball, that may lead him to want a quick trial date.

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