SAN FRANCISCO - More than 200 journalists and members of the public are expected to crowd the courtroom and a second overflow room at the Phillip Burton Federal Building today for the arraignment of Barry Bonds.
The brief hearing will mark the home-run king's first public appearance since he was indicted Nov. 15 on four counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice. The charges could mean prison time if Bonds is convicted.
Bonds' agent says the slugger wants to play in 2008.
"He's training currently, and he'd like to come back in 2008 to put a World Series ring on his finger," Jeff Borris told MLB.com. ". . . So I'm actively pursuing jobs for him from teams that are committed to winning."
Bonds was indicted for allegedly lying to a grand jury when he testified that he did not knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs. He is expected to plead not guilty.
In an attempt to corral the horde, the court has taken the rare step of bringing the judges to Bonds rather than requiring him to appear in two courtrooms, as is often the case with routine initial appearances by criminal defendants. Bonds also will be fingerprinted and have his mug shot taken. The whole affair is expected to last less than an hour.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James will serve as the warm-up act. After taking Bonds' plea - expected to be not guilty - she will leave the bench and turn the case over to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, who will set future court dates. Bonds is expected to remain free without having to post any bail.
Bonds became a free agent when the San Francisco Giants cut him after 16 seasons. He batted .276 with 28 home runs and 66 RBIs in 2007.