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Has Anybody Here in SF Not Heard of Barry Bonds?

By Jason Beahm on March 22, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It could be a long voir dire for the attorneys and jurors on the Barry Bonds perjury and obstruction of justice trial. The problem is of course figuring out how to seat an impartial jury in San Francisco, when Bonds, the all time home run king, played in the city.

News organizations have called on Judge Susan Illston to publish the names of the jurors, as well as their answers to the questionnaire. But the district attorney and Bond's attorneys have urged Judge Illston to keep jurors names secret until the trial is over, The New York Times reports. The attorneys say they fear that jurors will be harassed by news reporters if their names are released.

While there is no evidence of potential jurors being harassed, Judge Illston pointed to the leak of information from the Barry Bonds perjury indictment in 2005: "Grand jury transcripts were illegally leaked to the press. That was illegal," she said.

All in all, it will likely make for an unusually long jury selection process. The questionnaire alone is expected to run some 30 pages. But that doesn't mean that an anonymous jury is warranted, says media lawyer Duffy Carolan, who remarked that anonymity is typically reserved for organized crime cases or other proceedings in which jurors are in physical danger, California Watch reports.

"The fact that the process is open promotes honesty," Carolan argued. If their names are known, prospective jurors are less likely to make false statements during pre-trial questioning, she said.

So will they be able to seat a jury in the Barry Bonds perjury trial? Don't bet against it. With nearly a million people in San Francisco, weeding out biased jurors and finding 16 impartial people may be easier than you think.

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