The scene at the Federal Courthouse, 19th floor, is tight security and hyperactivity for the legal business. Returning to the reporting world for the first time since 1974.
This is a major media show; The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, even Agence Presse France to name several are represented. The benches are hard wood and I wish I had a cushion for the all day court session.
Judge Illston is a tall woman wearing designer glasses. She is soft-spoken, unfailingly courteous yet firm and runs a low key and efficient trial.
The first row is populated with members of Barry Bonds family and his entourage. As it turns out, Barry Bonds’ mom sits right in front of me and provides me with a window into her reactions to the day’s events.
Through much of the day, as her son’s former girlfriend is testifying, Bond’s mom is looking over her shoulder; seemingly thinking deeply about something or, perhaps, staring at someone in the adjoining spectator/media section.
Monday’s court session is almost totally consumed by Kimberly Bell who was Barry Bond’s companion and later mistress from 1994-2003. The questioning and testimony is simultaneously sordid and riveting as testimony focuses on her nine-year relationship with Barry Bonds and her efforts to publicize the relationship public after its conclusion. Ms. Bell, hands folded in front of her, appears alternately feisty, angry, pensive, sad, and tired, with an occasional faraway look during the nearly five hours she spends testifying. Ms. Bell’s testimony is very graphic, as media reports indicate.
Ms. Bell is alternately questioned in a very matter of fact manner by U.S. Attorney Jeff Nedrow and in a very aggressive, tenacious and, sometimes hectoring manner by Bond’s attorney Christina Arguedas, who gives of the appearance of a U.S. Marshall even though she has been a defense lawyer for 20 years.
By Monday’s conclusion at 3:40 PM Ms. Bell appears worn down yet gives off an aura of someone who does not let herself get pushed around as she walks by me and leaves the courtroom.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011. Today’s court session lacks the fireworks of Monday when news reports of Ms. Bell’s five hour interrogation reflect her sometime lurid testimony.
Going to the federal courthouse for a second day I wonder how people can work in the claustrophobic like atmosphere of this ugly 20 story building. The courtroom area is totally windowless and it is only the trial activity which keeps my mind off the tomblike environment. It all comes home today when the proceedings are intermittently interrupted from late morning to afternoon by a screeching bell and a voice coming from speakers in the ceiling. There is a “police action” outside on Golden Gate Avenue and the proceedings are disrupted by updates. Barry Bonds’ attorney Alan Ruby quips, “When the sprinklers go on, then I will get nervous.”
Today’s testimony drones on with words from a doctor whose firm conducts drug testing, a man who took urine samples from Barry Bonds, an impressive stint on the witness stand by former San Francisco Giants trainer Stan Conte and testimony by two former and one current Major League players: Jason Giambi (currently on the Colorado Rockies), Jeremy Giambi and Marvin Benard.
Mr. Conte, a stocky, well-tanned and soft-spoken witness told the court he got into serious debates with Barry Bonds about his training and rehab regimen, following a couple of injuries. Mr. Conte told the court he needed to stand up to Barry to gain his respect if not agreement. The ball players, all looking somewhat nervous, were called on to talk about their use of steroids and their involvement with Greg Anderson; the person who allegedly provided steroids to Barry Bonds.
Listening to these two days of testimony I realize that the personal relationships in baseball are so deep and there is a huge back story.
The former Giants trainer Stan Conte testifies that he could not prevail upon Barry Bonds to follow his rehab regimen because General Manager Brian Sabean and field manager Dusty Baker would not back him up. The fact that Barry Bonds was The Franchise may have been a factor in determining whose side Giants management accommodated.
Mr. Conte left the Giants after 2006 season and since 2007 has been team trainer for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The two days of testimony will largely decide if Barry Bonds will be convicted or not, the defense seems to have some stronger counter testaments on the way. Barry Bonds legacy will either be tarnished or the whole steroids-era mess will be put behind us, it is all in the hands of the jury now.
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