Bonds still looking to complete legal team

12/4/2007 - MLB Barry Bonds

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds' first date with a federal
judge is Friday, when he is expected to plead not guilty to perjury
and obstruction of justice charges, but the slugger still has yet
to assemble his full legal team.

Bonds and longtime attorney Mike Rains began shopping around the
Bay Area for another lawyer with federal experience even before
Bonds was charged Nov. 15 with lying to a grand jury about his
steroids use.

Rains has a small firm focused mostly on defending police
officers accused of misconduct and he has limited experience in
federal court. So Laura Enos, another lawyer who represents Bonds'
business interests, said the slugger was looking to add another
lawyer while also retaining Rains.

Negotiations between Bonds and John Keker, one of the country's
top -- and most expensive -- criminal defense attorney, fell through
last week over his fees and disagreements over control of the case,
two people with knowledge of the negotiations said on condition of
anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly.

Criminal law experts also said Keker may have faced conflict of
interest issues because his firm represented the Major League
Baseball players union in its unsuccessful lawsuit to prevent
federal investigators from keeping the names of some 100 players
who tested positive for performance enhancing drug use in 2003.

So Bonds is still interviewing criminal defense lawyers, and is
being advised by San Francisco civic leader Daniel Walter
Shorenstein, and trial lawyer and deep-pocketed Democratic donor
Joseph Cotchett, who was once the law partner of the judge
presiding over Bonds' case.

A grand jury indicted Bonds last month on four counts of perjury
and one count of obstruction of justice. The career home run leader
and former San Francisco Giant likely faces a maximum of two years
in prison if convicted.

Bonds' legal problems began with his testimony in December 2003
before a grand jury investigating a performance enhancing drug ring
centered at the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative in Burlingame.
Five men involved in the ring, including BALCO founder Victor
Conte, Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson and track coach Remi
Korchemny have pleaded guilty to drug charges.

George Walker, who represented Korchemny, said he's been
interviewed by Bonds' representatives as a potential candidate.
Walker said he had dinner with Bonds' business manager four months
ago and has several telephone conversation since. But Walker said
he hasn't heard anything from Bonds' camp in the last few days.

"They are looking over a lot of horses," Walker said. Walker
also said that it's not paramount that Bonds have his legal squad
in place by Friday. The hearing before U.S. District Court Judge
Susan Illston is expected to be brief and perfunctory with Bonds
pleading not guilty, a new court date being scheduled and the
slugger being released without having to post any bail money.

Before President Clinton appointed Illston to the bench in 1995,
she was a partner with Cotchett in a Burlingame-based law firm that
specializes in suing Wall Street corporations on behalf of
aggrieved shareholders.