The judge who will preside over home-run champion Barry Bonds' perjury trial in federal court in San Francisco said she wants to hold a hearing next week to find out whether Bonds' trainer will refuse to testify against him.
Bonds, 44, is due to go on trial March 2 in the court of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston on charges of lying to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied knowingly taking steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds' trainer and childhood friend, Greg Anderson, would be a key prosecution witness because his testimony is needed to authenticate alleged doping calendars and three positive steroids tests that prosecutors claim are linked to Bonds.
But prosecutors have said they believe Anderson is likely to refuse to testify. Anderson previously spent more than a year in prison for contempt of court for refusing to testify before a grand jury that eventually indicted Bonds in 2007.
The federal prosecutors asked Illston in a filing last week to find Anderson in contempt of court and imprison him for the length of the trial if he does refuse.
Illston said at a pretrial conference today she wants to learn Anderson's intentions before the trial begins, so that prosecution and defense lawyers will know whether to refer to his possible testimony during their opening statements to the jury.
"If he says no, that would guide the opening statements," Illston said.
The judge said she hadn't been able to find any other case "where someone was imprisoned for a year during grand jury proceedings and then called to trial and jailed again."
The date for next week's hearing has not yet been set.
Illston also announced today that on the first day of trial on March 2, potential jurors will fill out questionnaires and prosecution and defense attorneys will review the questionnaires.
Selection of the 12 jurors and two alternates will begin on March 3. The trial is expected to last three to four weeks.
Bonds faces 10 counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing justice in Dec. 4, 2003, testimony before a grand jury that was investigating the distribution of sports drugs by the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.