Barry Bonds today pleaded not guilty in a San Francisco federal courthouse to four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice in the BALCO steroids investigation.
No trial date was set in the case and one of Bonds’s six attorneys, Allen Ruby, said a motion to dismiss is being contemplated because there were “defects” on the face of the indictment. The next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 7. Legal pundits on Court TV and ESPN suggest a trial could commence in summer or not until late in 2008.
Conceptually, the latter date frees up Major League Baseball’s home run king to swing his maple stick in pursuit of more dingers, 3,000 hits and perhaps a last chance for a World Series ring. That’s if any club – his longtime team, the San Francisco Giants, in September said his services were no longer needed – would be foolish enough to take a flyer on his damaged legs and the media circus that would again engulf the arrogant slugger.
For the many that maintain that Bonds — who had to run the media gauntlet entering and exiting court today –indulged in performance-enhancing substances, aiding him in the establishment of the single-season and career HR marks, there will be a strong rooting interest that his “dream team” defense strikes out. The fact No. 25, who faces up to 30 years, could spend some time in prison and maybe have his HR marks deleted figures to be must-see TV.
Come April 7, O.J. Simpson is slated to go to trial in Clark County District Court in Nevada on 12 charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, over his and five others’ attempt to retrieve the Juice’s allegedly stolen memorabilia from a Las Vegas hotel room. The kidnapping charges could carry a life sentence, while the robbery and assault with deadly weapon offenses could result in 15 years behind bars
For all those who think the Simpson skated in his 1995 acquittal on charges that he murdered his ex-wife and Ronald Goldman the previous year, this could be the former running back’s penal comeuppance. Of course, that “trial of the century” made household names of Judge Lance Ito, Los Angeles County prosecutor Marcia Clark and Court TV itself. The Juice’s latest attempt to squeeze through the justice system also figures to be must-see TV.
Both of those high-profile trials could prove nettlesome for Court TV, which beginning Jan. 1 becomes TruTV. That’s because under the rebranding, the network will place more emphasis on real-life and unscripted series, while its court and legal coverage will encompass a six-hour block weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Indeed, the network won’t be Nielsen-rated until the 3 p.m., starting with the one-hour Star Jones show.
But since both O.J. and Bonds would be tried in the Pacific time zone that doesn’t square well with the net’s new schedule, back East and in the middle of the country.
Since the Bonds’ case, if it goes to trial, falls under federal jurisdiction, cameras will not be allowed in the courtroom. TruTV would likely place a reporter inside with U.S. District Court Judge Susan Ilston, the woman who presided over the original BALCO proceedings. In turn, that correspondent would come out and converse with network anchors.
But TruTV, which will provide pool coverage for the Simpson trial, has yet to finalize its game plan for the sports stars.
“We have been a leader in trial coverage and as events merit, our schedule will accommodate, and we’ll make that decision at the time,” said a network official.
Bet that decision calls for pre-emptions, especially for the Juice junket. Take the over that there will be a little bit more interest in O.J. and Bonds than Star Jones.