barry_big.jpgFormer San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds will go to trial on March 21, 2011, on federal charges of lying to a grand jury about his steroid use.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston set the trial date at a brief hearing in her San Francisco courtroom today. Bonds, 46, was not present.

The former Giants star faces 10 counts of false statements and one count of obstruction of justice in his testimony before a federal grand jury on Dec. 4, 2003.

Among other charges, he is accused of lying when he said he never knowingly took steroids and never received testosterone or human growth hormone from his trainer, Greg Anderson.

The grand jury was investigating illegal drug distribution by the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.

Bonds, who played for the Giants from 1993 to 2007, set the Major League Baseball single-season record for home runs with 73 in 2001. He set the career home-run record in 2007 with a total of 762.

Outside of court, Bonds’ defense lawyers reiterated that they don’t expect a plea bargain in the case. They said they were pleased the trial date had been set.

“Everybody wants to see this case tried,” said lead defense attorney Allen Ruby.
Bonds was indicted in 2007 and previously due to go to trial in Illston’s court on March 2, 2009. But that date was abruptly cancelled three days beforehand when prosecutors decided to appeal an unfavorable evidence ruling by Illston.

In June, a federal appeals court upheld Illston’s ruling, thus clearing the way for the scheduling of a new trial date.

In that decision, Illston said prosecutors couldn’t use evidence of three drug tests from 2000 and 2001 that allegedly showed steroid use unless Anderson testified to link them to Bonds. Anderson has refused to testify.

Prosecutors have alleged that Anderson brought urine samples from Bonds to BALCO for testing by an outside laboratory.

Illston also set Jan. 21 as the date for a hearing on pretrial motions.

All previous pretrial rulings, including Illston’s decision barring the use of the steroid test results, will remain in effect for the 2011 trial, but Ruby told Illston today that the defense plans to file unspecified additional motions.

Outside of court, Ruby declined to say what those motions will be.

Prosecution and defense attorneys are due to file their witness and exhibit lists with Illston by Oct. 15. The defense attorneys said they will develop their pretrial motions after reviewing the prosecution’s lists.

A new factor in the 2011 trial may be that a new U.S. attorney will be at the helm of the prosecutors’ office.

Melinda Haag, a San Francisco lawyer and former federal prosecutor, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate Thursday as the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, which includes the Bay Area and northern coastal California. She was named to the post by President Obama.

Bonds’ attorneys and U.S. attorney’s office spokesman Josh Eaton declined to comment on what effect the installation of a new U.S. attorney might have on prosecutors’ approach to the long-running case.

Eaton said today there is no word on when Haag will be sworn in to her new post.

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