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Barry Bonds steroid case: One-third of prospective jurors already excused

March 21, 2011 |  1:10 pm

Former Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds arrives for the first day of his perjury trial in San Francisco.

More than one-third of the prospective jurors being examined for Barry Bonds' trial were excused Monday for hardship or prejudice.

The trial of the former San Francisco Giant opened with jury selection before a San Francisco federal judge. So far, the excusals were based on answers that prospective jurors gave in written questionnaires.

Bonds faces federal charges that he lied when he told a grand jury in 2003 that he had never knowingly taken steroids. Opening arguments are expected Tuesday in the trial, which is expected to last three weeks.

During questioning, one prospective juror said he would have a hard time convicting Bonds because he was such a great athlete. A woman who said she had been on chartered flights with baseball players said she too would have a hard time being fair.

The federal trial comes almost a decade after the start of a probe that sparked hearings before Congress, exposed the secret use of performance-enhancing drugs by many of the nation's most admired athletes and forced professional sports to grapple with reforms.

"This is the final act," said Golden Gate University Law School professor Peter Keane. "And Bonds is the big trophy."

The outcome may determine whether the years and money spent to snare the former Giant amounts to an overreaching prosecution or the vindication of a search for justice and the affirmation of the rule of law.

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-- Maura Dolan in San Francisco

Photo: Former Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds arrives for the first day of his perjury trial in San Francisco. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

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