SAN FRANCISCO—Barry Bonds, the San Francisco Giants outfielder who in 2007 capped his 22-year baseball career by becoming the MLB's all-time home run leader, arrived in Courtroom 10 of the Phillip Burton Federal Courthouse at 8 a.m. Monday to appear in Case No. 3:07-cr-00732-SI, USA v. Steroid-Using Liar Barry Bonds.
The prosecution has charged Bonds with four counts of perjury and one count of obstructing justice for allegedly lying to a grand jury about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds' lawyers stated in a press release yesterday they were confident they would receive a "quick and clear acquittal" for their "dishonest cheater of a client."
Jury selection took up most of the first day, with the two sides eventually settling on eight women and four men who, they mutually stated in a court document, would "do their best to consider the case of lying, steroid-using, baseball-ruining asshole Barry Bonds with fairness and impartiality."
"Your job is to determine if the defendant, the cheating liar known as Mr. Barry Bonds, did in fact commit perjury when he lied under oath in 2003," Judge Susan Illston said as she swore in the jury. "Ignore the painfully obvious fact of his steroid use unless it becomes germane to these proceedings—unless, for example, said obvious steroid use is something this liar lied about while committing his alleged steroid-related perjury."
Opening statements then followed, with the prosecution contending Bonds perjured himself by responding "no" when asked if he had ever taken anabolic steroids, testosterone, or human growth hormone.
"We intend to show you exactly how the statements about steroid use made by Mr. Bonds—whose defining characteristics, as we have established, are using steroids and lying—were in fact lies," said prosecutor Matt Parella, who carefully and methodically laid out his case for jurors. "By the end of this trial, we believe no reasonable doubt will remain concerning this lying steroid user's steroid-related lying, if indeed any such doubt exists."
Defense lawyer Allen Ruby's opening statements concerning his client did not downplay either Bonds' steroid use or his lying, as many had expected, but took a more personal approach.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client, the defendant, Mr. Barry Bonds, the man who lied and cheated his way into the record books, the man who in fact used steroids to cheat and then lied about it—I am here to tell you that you must find him innocent of lying to the court," said Ruby, who was relaxed and cordial during his opening statements. "This will take several weeks, because my client is in fact such a huge liar that it will not be easy to weed through all the lying he's done."
"The truth of the matter is this," Ruby added. "When it comes to USA v. Steroid-Using Liar Barry Bonds, the government just doesn't have any hard, admissible evidence that he took steroids and lied."
Bonds, dressed Monday in a somber black suit and gray tie, sat impassively and silently while watching the proceedings with his defense team, who told reporters their strategy was for their client not to testify so that he would not have a chance to re-perjure himself during the proceedings.
"Ultimately, however, the prosecution will most likely call him to the stand," defense attorney Christina Arguedas said. "Mr. Bonds will then either plead his Fifth Amendment rights or, as we believe is more likely, lie extensively and to the best of his ability, which may hurt our perjury case."
Arguedas added that, while it would certainly be characteristic of the man, she did not believe Bonds would have the opportunity to take steroids during the trial.
"In the coming weeks, we're going to see a lot of people who have known Bonds—not just as a baseball player or a liar and cheater, but as a terrible human being—testify about his lying, his cheating, and his character," said criminal analyst Beth Reiser, explaining that Bonds' history of cheating would play just as big a part in his perjury trial as his lying. "Former players, trainers, lovers, employees, employers, neighbors, acquaintances, people who saw him play, people who met him for a few minutes at a signing… All of these people will come forward and talk about what a liar he is. Really, this trial should be pretty simple."
"Still, you never know," Reiser added. "Look what happened in The People of the State of California v. Psycho Wife-Beheader Orenthal James Simpson."