Public Peek at Barry Bonds’ Trial Jurors

Bonds at bat in 2006 (JessicaFM)

Before jury selection begins March 21, 2011 in the federal perjury trial of former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds there are issues of just how public to make the selection of jurors.

Federal Judge Susan Illston ruled, (Item 284), Monday that the names of jurors won’t be disclosed during the perjury trial. 

Withholding the names during the trial “is intended to lessen the risk that jurors will be approached during trial” to gain information or influence the verdict, according to Illston.

She’s particularly concerned that jurors not get their hands on evidence excluded from the trial.  That mainly concerns a set of alleged doping calendars used by Bonds’ trainer Greg Anderson.  But because Anderson is likely to refuse to testify the calendars can’t be authenticated and thus are not admissible for trial.

Illston said she didn’t even want to risk that someone might post a message on a juror’s Facebook page about the excluded evidence.  

But at the request of nine media organizations, Illston did agree to let reporters and the public review the lengthy jury questionnaires filled out by potential jurors.  That will happen during the final selection process, only after the potential jurors get in the jury box to face questions from lawyers.  The potential jurors will be identified by number and their names excluded from the questionnaires.

At least 57 news organizations from around the world have asked for press credentials to cover the trial.  The issue of who gets on the jury and who is excluded is considered significant as part of the public trial process.  

The government accused Bonds of perjury in 2007 for allegedly lying to a grand jury about steroid use.  Bonds has consistently denied knowing use of performance enhancing drugs during the years he played for the Giants, from 1993 to 2007.

Illston said in her March 14 ruling that she would withhold names and photos of jurors out of concern that they “could be approached or even harassed or offered money to provide information about themselves or the case.”

She will allow release of the names after the case ends and jurors have been dismissed.  She rejected more onerous options, such as sequestering the jury.

 Case: US v. Bonds, C07-732SI  (N. Dist. of California)

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