JUNE 05, 17:49 EDTCourt Reviews Bonds' Premarital Deal
By ANTHONY BREZNICAN
Associated Press Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) A lawyer for Barry Bonds asked a court Monday to uphold a 1988 prenuptial agreement with the player's ex-wife despite her failure to hire her own attorney before signing.
The decision by the California Supreme Court could affect thousands of premarital agreements in the state in which one party gave up community property rights without advice from a lawyer.
Barry Bonds attended the Monday hearing, with the San Francisco Giants in town to play the Anaheim Angels.
A state appeals court ruled in April 1999 that Bonds' first wife, Sun Bonds, signed the agreement involuntarily because she had no legal counsel while her fiancee had two lawyers and a financial adviser.
That entitled her to a new trial on the validity of the prenuptial agreement.
If the earnings her ex-husband accumulated during their six-year marriage would be deemed community property, they must be divided equally because of the divorce.
The amount of Sun Bonds' potential share has not been determined. By the time the couple divorced in 1994, Bonds had gone from a Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder making $106,000 annually to an $8 million-a-year star with the Giants.
Richard Sherman, Bonds' attorney, asked the state Supreme Court to overturn the appellate ruling. He said Sun Bonds had learned about the agreement one week before signing and had sufficient time to hire counsel.
He said Barry Bonds' lawyers told her she could hire her own attorney and she declined.
``She knew Barry wouldn't marry her without (the agreement), she knew what community property was and she said she didn't have any (property of her own) anyway,'' Sherman said.
Sherman said Bonds' attorneys supplied the same explanation of the contract that any other attorney would have.
However, Sun Bonds' lawyer, Paige Wickland, argued that her client was not told that negotiating the agreement made Barry Bonds a potential adversary and so she did not think another lawyer was necessary.
``She should have been put on notice that Barry Bonds wanted this agreement and that she was no longer his friend,'' Wickland said.
Sun Bonds also was coerced into signing, her lawyer said, because the agreement was presented to her only one day before their Las Vegas wedding, compounding the pressure to sign.
``Is it fair that you have to choose at the last minute between giving up your rights and giving up your marriage?'' Wickland said.
After the couple's divorce, a San Mateo County Superior Court judge ruled Sun Bonds had understood the agreement and signed it voluntarily.
But the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled 2-1 in April 1999 that the judge failed to examine the agreement in light of the couple's ``unequal bargaining power.''
Copyright 2000 Associated Press.