SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Barry Bonds told a judge Friday that he wants two top-notch Bay Area defense lawyers to lead his legal team even though they previously represented potential witnesses against the slugger.

Bonds, who is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to a federal grand jury about his steroid use, appeared briefly in federal court after prosecutors raised conflict-of-interest concerns about defense attorneys Allen Ruby and Cris Arguedas.

Bonds, dressed in a baggy, light blue suit, stood erect in front of the judge with his hands on the podium.

Speaking softly in response to a series of questions by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, baseball’s home run king said he wanted the two lawyers to represent him, even though lead attorney Ruby had earlier represented Bonds’ personal surgeon Dr. Arthur Ting and Arguedas represented former track star Tim Montgomery.

“The concern is that their prior representation may impact their representation of you,” Illston said.

Illston did not immediately rule on whether to disqualify Ruby and Arguedas and asked Bonds to file a written declaration by Jan. 4, though she appeared inclined to let Bonds keep the lawyers.

Bonds answered “yes” when the judge asked him if his lawyers explained their potential conflicts before he hired him earlier this month.

Bonds’ longtime criminal defense attorney Michael Rains also told the judge he explained to Bonds the conflict issues.

Bonds declined to comment as he left court, this time through a smattering of media much smaller than the crushing, chaotic scene of his arraignment Dec. 7.

Prosecutors said Montgomery likely won’t be called to the witness stand, but they said in court papers they probably will call Ting as a witness at trial.

They’re concerned Ruby won’t conduct a rigorous cross-examination of the doctor.

Ruby told the judge that he represented Ting for a month in 2005 when the doctor was ordered to turn over Bonds’ medical records to investigators. Ting also testified in 2006 before the grand jury investigating Bonds for perjury.

Ting accompanied Bonds to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative to draw the slugger’s blood, which was privately tested for steroids. According the indictment charging Bonds with perjury and obstruction, two of those tests came back positive.

“I think it needs to be made clear that there is no suggestion by anyone of any wrongdoing,” Ruby said of Ting.

Arguedas represented disgraced track star Montgomery and three former professional football players who testified about their steroid use to a grand jury investigating a steroids ring based at BALCO.

By waiving conflict-of-interest issues, Bonds is precluded from appealing any conviction because of the lawyer’s previous representation.

Bonds’ attorneys also pushed back their next appearance in court for setting up future court dates from Feb. 7 to Feb. 8. Bonds will not appear at that hearing.

AP-ES-12-21-07 1859EST

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