Jury set for slugger Bonds' perjury trial
Updated: 2011-03-23 07:41
SAN FRANCISCO - Finding San Francisco area residents who lack strong opinions of their World Series champion and their former star player proved no easy task on Monday in jury selection for the Barry Bonds trial.
It took roughly six hours for a federal judge and lawyers to find the 12 jurors and two alternates who will decide if the US baseball home run king lied to a 2003 grand jury when he denied knowingly using steroids.
Some three dozen potential jurors were excused from the initial pool of about 100 before screening began, either because of hardship or prejudice, some after confessing a love of the San Francisco Giants and their ex-slugger Bonds.
By the end of the day, four men and eight women had been empaneled for the perjury trial, which is expected to take about four weeks and so will likely be ongoing when the Major League Baseball season begins on March 31.
The chosen jurors, whose names are being withheld until after the trial, include a paralegal studies student, an autism specialist and a phlebotomist.
They seemingly have little opinion of Bonds, the San Francisco Giants or organized sports.
But it was clear, both from remarks made in court and answers given to written questionnaires, that many in the initial jury pool harbored strong feelings about Bonds.
"I would be reluctant to render a judgment against a great athlete like Mr Bonds, so that may cloud my judgment," a 61-year-old US Air Force veteran told US District Judge Susan Illston.
"Anybody who steps up the plate and the entire stadium cheers, that's something to look up to," another man said.
In questioning potential jurors, defense attorney Cris Arguedas acknowledged the impossibility of finding jurors who were unaware of the high-profile case.
"There are very few people here that are a blank slate because this case has gotten so much publicity. We accept that," Arguedas said.
"Barry Bonds and the press have not gotten along very well over the years, so most of the press has been bad. We accept that."
While most said they thought they could be unbiased, many potential jurors also expressed deep disappointment in the steroids scandal that has tarnished the reputation of US sports stars, especially in the American pastime.
"I saw Barry hit his 500th homer in person, which beat the (arch-rival Los Angeles) Dodgers," wrote a 43-year-old woman who manages a health insurance newsletter.
"I used to love to watch him play because he was a game changer. But I'm disappointed that he took steroids and lied about it."
A 42-year-old elementary school teacher wrote that professional athletes using banned drugs set a bad example for children.
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