Attempting to discern if a jury will be for or against a defendant before a trial begins is as a futile as counting raindrops.
It would be unwise then to speculate about the leanings of the group of jurors --eight women and four men -- who were tabbed on Monday to serve in the perjury trial of former Giants slugger Barry Bonds. They were selected out of 36 individuals based on answers to a questionnaire and their responses (or silence) to a handful of questions from Judge Susan Illston and lawyers from both sides over five-plus hours in a San Francisco federal courthouse.
We learned their ages, their professions, and that some knew about Bonds and his case already, but that is far too little to say if Bonds got a friendly or unfriendly jury as he fights charges that he perjured himself before the BALCO grand jury in 2003.
"Congratulations, you have survived a grueling ordeal," Illston told the panel, which also includes two alternates, both women. She did not say that another grueling ordeal would start Tuesday as opening statements begin the next phase of a trial estimated to last at least four weeks.
The average age of the 12 jurors is 43, with the youngest being a 19-year-old woman from Pinole who would have been 11 when Bonds testified before the grand jury. Two of the male jurors, both 68, are the panel's oldest members.
Their professions range from the retired to the unemployed to a phlebotomist -- a 27-year-old woman from Antioch who will have no trouble following if the trial delves into discussions of blood drawn for testing. There is a food server, a nurse, a data systems engineer, a woman employed by a company that works with developmentally disabled adults and another who is an autism support specialist.
Their interest in sports and familiarity with Bonds and his case varies. In response to a question about whether or not he watched sports, one male juror wrote in the margin of his questionnaire: "Only watch Packers games." He proudly wore a jacket with the Green Bay Packers' logo on it to court.
The 19-year-old juror remarked in her questionnaire that "Athletes shouldn't use steroids," but her responses to other questions revealed that she knew little about Bonds.
The day was mostly a slog, with frequent recesses and sidebars as lawyers met with Illston. Bonds was in the courtroom and was introduced to prospective jurors when Cristina Arguedas, one of his attorneys, began her voir dire. Bonds, who was wearing a dark suit and occasionally took notes during the day, stood and waved.
Based on the questions asked by prosecutor Matthew Parrella and Bonds' defense team, one could drawn some conclusions about their concerns going forward. Parrella asked who among the panel were Giants fans and if any "hoped" the charges against Bonds were not true. Arguedas seemed intent on weeding out individuals who might have already judged Bonds, asking at one point if any had heard the phrase: "In the court of public opinion."
There were a few lighter moments, such as the laughter when one prospective juror admitted to purchasing Oakland A's memorabilia. The questionnaires of some individuals who were not selected to serve also provided humor. One woman wrote, in regards to whether she could be impartial, "We all know Bonds is a jerk but he is not being prosecuted for that." (She added a smiley face at end of that sentence.) Another juror said he was a die-hard Giants fans, and that he had an "intimate relationship with Bonds." That would probably be news to Bonds.
In addition to opening statements, Tuesday will feature an appearance by Greg Anderson, Bonds' former trainer, who has refused to testify against his one-time client. Anderson is expected to appear before Illston and reiterate that he won't testify. Illston has the option of jailing him for the duration of the trial.