SAN FRANCISCO – Barry Bonds' perjury trial is fast approaching and the lawyers and judge are still scrambling to set limits and rules for the month-long proceedings scheduled to start March 21.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ordered Bonds to enter a plea for the third time since he was initially charged in 2007 with lying to a grand jury about his steroids use. The new plea was needed because prosecutors the day before filed a revised indictment, cutting the number of charges Bonds faces from 11 to five.
Bonds is expected to plead not guilty when he is arraigned March 1, the same day the judge ordered the slugger's former trainer to appear in court. Illston wants Greg Anderson to reiterate in front of her and under oath his refusal to testify against Bonds during the trial. Illston plans to jail Anderson on contempt of court charges for the duration of the trial if he follows through on his pledge. Anderson's attorney, Mark Geragos, said Anderson won't testify.
What to tell the jury about Anderson's vow of silence was brought up during the hearing Friday. Even without his testimony, Anderson is still expected to play a large role in the trial. Prosecutors allege he supplied Bonds with steroids and instructed him on how to use them. Anderson's name and actions will be mentioned by others during the trial, including current Major Leaguer Jason Giambi and several former players the government intends to call to the witness stand. The players are expected to testify that Anderson supplied them with steroids.
"The jury deserves to be told something," Illston told the lawyers. "We owe them something about why he's not testifying."
Lawyers on both sides agreed, telling the judge they were developing a plan on what to tell the jury.
Illston put off ruling on the other major issue put before her Friday. Bonds asked her to exclude from trial a recording made by Bonds' former business partner, Stevie Hoskins. Prosecutors said the recording captures a conversation between Hoskins and Anderson while they stood in front of Bonds' San Francisco Giants locker in March 2003.
Prosecutors allege the two are discussing Bonds' steroids use.
Bonds' attorneys want the recording excluded because of Anderson's refusal to testify. They argue that the recording can't be authenticated without Anderson's testimony.
They also dispute that it can be proven the conversation is about steroids. One of Bonds' six attorneys, Donald Horgan, told the judge Friday that the conversation could have been about legal substances.