Old Rivals

The new lawyer for Barry Bonds* is an old foe of the Giants slugger's other lawyer

Good ol' lovable Barry Bonds*. So how does the Giants slugger celebrate breaking the most cherished record in all of sports? Why, by hiring himself yet another new lawyer, Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris, who immediately let the media know that Barry* might — might! — sue anyone who makes false statements while talking shit about him.

Missed in all the ensuing hubbub about the lawsuit threats was an intriguing story line about Burris being added to Barry's* growing family of sharks and the tension it might create. You see, Burris and Mike Rains, Bonds' longtime criminal attorney, are well-known rivals.

The bread and butter of Rains' practice is defending cops accused of misconduct. Rains, a former cop himself, is perhaps best known for leading the defense team that helped three allegedly rogue Oakland officers called "the Riders" beat a criminal rap.

Which brings us back to Burris. The semi-regular TV legal pundit makes most of his money filing lawsuits against Bay Area police departments on behalf of clients who claim to be the victims of police brutality or misconduct. He is perhaps best known for successfully suing the City of Oakland on behalf of dozens of people who accused the Riders of beating them up or framing them.

As you might imagine, considering their different allegiances, Rains and Burris are not known as the best of friends in Bay Area legal circles.

When we called Burris to ask him about the strange-bedfellows aspect, he laughed and acknowledged, "The very idea that Rains and I could be on the same side of the table is quite remarkable."

But Burris says his hiring wasn't meant by Bonds* as a slight to Rains. Burris says Rains will still be representing Bonds* on criminal matters — like the continuing federal grand jury investigation about whether Bonds* lied under oath about using illicit steroids flaxseed oil. According to Burris, Bonds' people recently approached him to work on the anti-defamation campaign because of his experience dealing with the media and handling high-profile clients (such as rapper Tupac Shakur, NFL star Keyshawn Johnson, and basketball pro Gary Payton).

For his part, Rains left us a message declining to comment — at least in detail. "Yeah, there's probably a story there," Rains allowed, "but I don't know that I care to get into it at this point."

 
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