Bonds plans to hire new lawyer ahead of federal court appearance

Updated: November 29, 2007, 8:37 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds plans to add an attorney to his legal team before his federal court appearance next week, the slugger's longtime business affairs lawyer said Thursday.

Michael Rains has represented Bonds since the home run king first was subpoenaed in 2003 to testify in front of a grand jury investigating performance-enhancing drug use among elite athletes. Bonds is charged with lying to that grand jury when he testified he didn't knowingly take steroids and is scheduled to make his first court appearance Dec. 7.

Laura Enos, who has legally advised Bonds on business matters since 1997, said Bonds was negotiating with a high-profile lawyer with federal experience to help in defense against five felony charges of perjury and obstruction. She declined to discuss names, though San Francisco attorney John Keker's name was mentioned throughout the legal community here as the likely candidate.

Keker's law office declined comment.

If Bonds does hire Keker, he'll be taking on one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the country.

Keker first rose to prominence as the special prosecutor of Lt. Col Oliver North during the Iran-Contra trial in 1989. Since then, he has represented, among other high-profile clients, Enron Corp. finance chief Andrew Fastow, securities litigator Bill Lerach and former star stock analyst Frank Quattrone.

"I'd hire Keker if I were in trouble," Enos said, declining to confirm if Bonds was targeting Keker.

"This has been in the works for six months," Enos said. "Mike doesn't have a deep bench, and he doesn't have a lot of federal experience."

Rains, a former U.S. Marine and police officer, operates a small law firm in Walnut Creek that is focused mostly on defending in state court police officers accused of misconduct.

Rains told The Associated Press last year that he landed Bonds as a client through a mutual acquaintance, Dan Molieri, a boyhood friend of Bonds and a former South San Francisco police officer.

Enos said Bonds has been satisfied with Rains' outspoken representation, which included taunting prosecutors over the summer that they didn't have enough evidence to indict a ham sandwich, let alone Bonds. Rains apparently alienated federal prosecutors so much they didn't extend a typical courtesy and give him advance notice that Bonds would be indicted.

"Barry was surprised," said Enos, who added Bonds and his legal team had hoped the investigation would end without an indictment because they believed the statute of limitation on Bonds' December 2003 testimony would expire next month.

"Things were quiet for months," she said.

Enos said she expects Rains will remain part of Bonds' post-indictment legal team, but she wasn't sure of Rains' intentions.

"You never know if there will be differing of opinions on how to handle the case," she said. "But I assume Mike is staying."

Rains declined comment Thursday.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press