November 2000

Robert Downey Jr. was arrested for drug possession nearly three months after being released from prison and relaunching his career. Downey planned in January to star in a Los Angeles stage run of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" to be directed by Mel Gibson, and was currently appearing on the "Ally McBeal" TV show.

Downey, 35, was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance, drug possession, and committing a felony while free on bail. He was released Sunday on $15,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court within 30 days.


December 11th 2000

Actor Robert Downey Jr. charged in Palm Springs drug case

Los Angeles --- Robert was charged with a misdemeanor and two felony drug counts after his arrest on Thanksgiving weekend. If convicted, the actor could receive a maximum of six years in state prison on the felonies and a year in jail on the misdemeanor. He might also get an additional year because he has served a prior prison term, according to Riverside County Asst. DA. Sue F. Steding.

Downey is scheduled for a December 27th arraignment in Indio, south of Palm Springs. He will plead innocent to the charges, said publicist Alan Nierob. The attorneys for the actor are continuing their investigation "regarding the circumstances of Mr. Downey's arrest," Nierob said in a brief statement Monday.

Downey was arrested Nov. 25th after an anonymous 911 call. This led police to a room at Merv Griffin's Resort Hotel and Givenchy Spa. They allegedly found Downey with cocaine and methamphetamine. He returned to work on the Fox series "Ally McBeal" three days later. Signed to appear in 10 episodes, the network said it expects him to complete his work before the court date.

Downey was charged with felony possession of the tranquilizer diazepam and cocaine, each punishable by up to three years in state prison. He also could face a misdemeanor charge of being under the influence of a controlled substance, which carries a maximum one-year jail sentence. The D.A.'s office declined to file a "sentence enhancement" relating to the fact that Downey was out on bail from the prior drug case. This might have added another two years to his maximum sentence, Steding said, but there was a "factual quagmire" regarding his bail status.

Just after Downey's arrest in November, his publicist addressed his client's situation: "He's a recovering addict. Recovering addicts have relapses. He's working hard at his sobriety as he has for the last 18 months," Nierob said.

Rosemary Rogers Downey, Robert's stepmother, says in the current issue of People magazine that the actor was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, known as manic depression, and has not gotten help for it. "It's the reason he has a hard time staying sober. What hasn't been tried is medication and intensive psychotherapy," she said. Rosemary lives with Downey's director-father in New York.


Latest Update: January 2001

Downey Wins Month's Delay On Drug Charge Actor Is Eligible For Drug Program

LOS ANGELES , 6:27 p.m. EST January 29, 2001 -- A judge postponed a hearing for actor Robert Downey Jr. that had been scheduled for Monday, setting the hearing on drug charges for Feb. 21. Judge Explains Conditions Of Downey's Postponed Hearing Downey appeared in court Monday, and Riverside County Superior Court Judge B.J. Ork told him that he will be required to attend next month's hearing if his attorneys and prosecutors reach a deal, but will not need to be there if it appears that the case will be postponed again. Downey's lawyers asked that Monday's hearing be postponed. They wanted more time to work on a plea deal, which involves a drug program designed for lesser offenders. The Riverside County district attorney's office says Downey is eligible for the program. Police went to Downey's room in the Merv Griffin Resort in Palm Springs after receiving an anonymous 911 call on Nov. 25. They allegedly found drugs in his room. He pleaded innocent last month to drug possession and being under the influence of a controlled substance. The 35-year-old actor recently won a Golden Globe for supporting actor on the TV show "Ally McBeal." Downey has served about a year in prison for violating a probation on several drug and weapons arrests dating back to 1996.



August 2 2000

Robert Downey Jr. Released!

Appeals court agrees that judge miscalculated actor’s prison sentence

ASSOCIATED PRESS LOS ANGELES, Aug. 2 — Actor Robert Downey Jr. was released from prison on $5,000 bail Wednesday after an appeals court ruled he had served enough time to fulfill his three-year sentence on drug charges. The four-judge panel of the California Second District Court of Appeal said Downey was entitled to receive credit for time he served in drug rehabilitation facilities. The California State Prison in Corcoran said Downey was released Wednesday afternoon, just hours after the ruling.

Downey's latest film was ``Wonder Boys'' with Michael Douglas, where the actor said in an interview that he attends drug rehabilitation classes five days a week and is tested ``all the time,'' which keeps him clean and prevents a relapse into his former addiction.


The Real Cost Of The Drug War


There's nothing funny about Downey's addiction

Actor Robert Downey Jr. is California's glassy-eyed poster boy for the failed war on drags. After numerous arrests dating back to 1996 and several fruitless attempts by the courts to rehabilitate him, Downey served a year in state prison. Barely three months after his release, the Hollywood celebrity was arrested again on Thanksgiving weekend for possession and use of cocaine and methamphetamine. Downey's troubles are the butt of water-cooler jokes around the country. But to anyone who has seen a loved one struggle with addiction, there's nothing funny about his plight. Downey is a hopeless junkie whose father reportedly introduced him to marijuana when he was just 6 years old.

Law enforcement officials may think it's good social policy to make an example of the actor's weaknesses. Downey's case, however, simply underscores that the drug war is a costly and selective form of government paternalism that has done far more harm than good.

A new book of essays issued by the libertarian Cato Institute, After Prohibition: An Adult Approach to Drug Policies in the 21 st Century, sheds harsh light on what eminent economist Milton Friedman calls the "social tragedy" of drug prohibition. In his foreword to the book, Friedman points out that the list of illegal drugs includes marijuana--"for which there is no recorded case of a human death from overdose in several thousand years of use" but excludes alcohol, "for which the annual death toll in the United States alone is measured in the tens if not hundreds of thousands." Friedman decries the looming conversion of the United States into a police state as a result of draconian laws, arresting scores of people for drug-war tactics. "The annual arrest of nearly a million and a half people suspected of a drug offence, most of them for simple possession of small quantities, is frightening evidence of how far along that road we have already gone."

Most of those behind bars, unlike Downey, can't afford to post bail or hire competent lawyers. Julie Stewart of Families Against Mandatory Minimums points out that drug offenders now make up 60 percent of the federal prison population, up from 38 percent 14 years ago. In 1998, 57 percent were first offenders and 88 percent had no weapons. "We are not catching kingpins" Stewart writes. "We are catching the little guys, the gift-friends, the mules, and we are sending them to prison for five years, 10 years, and often much longer:"

Until recently, the government often mocked drug war opponents as a motley crew of free-market intellectuals, ex-hippies and potheads. But cops on the front lines of the drug war, firsthand witnesses to infutility, are joining the critics.

David Klinger, former police officer in Los Angeles and Seattle, writes of his evolution in thinking about drug policy:

"At some point in my first months on patrol, after handling hundreds of calls that involved drugs, and after arresting scores of people for possessing various sorts of illegal stuff, I began to have doubts about what my peers and I were doing. I saw violent criminals walking the streets because the jail space they rightfully deserved was occupied by nonviolent drug offenders. I started seeing most of the people I dealt with, who had some association with drugs, either as broken souls who made self-destructive choices or harmless people who indulged their appetites in moderation -- but not as crooks who needed to be punished."

Klinger, now a criminology professor, concluded from his years on the street: "We cannot protect free adults from their own poor choices, and we should not use the force of law to try."

Black and white, young and old, famous and nameless -- Americans from all walks of life can identify with the broken soul of Robert Downey Jr. His addiction is his own prison. His public humiliation is its own life sentence. The war on drugs is an expensive quagmire that needlessly punishes people who've already punished themselves beyond repair.




Picture of harried Robert DowneyJudge angrily voices disappointment in Robert Downey Jr. and revokes his  probation.  Mr. Downey, 32-year-old husband and father of a 4-year-old son, celebrated film star,  renowned for diversity and exceptional talent, appeared in Malibu courtroom October 17, 1997 to hear testimony that he violated probation by failing drug test one month prior.  Further testimony by drug "counselor" made reference to Mr. Downey's self-destructive behavior and inability to remember his actions.  The clueless "counselor" failed to recognize exhibited behavior as classically symptomatic of underlying mood disorder. Lack of recall during a manic episode is key. People with addictions often have clinical mood disorders such as unipolar, bipolar, cyclothymic depression (cyclothymic as milder version of manic depression) and attention deficit disorder. Paradoxically, drugs with a stimulant effect (such as cocaine and methamphetamine) help calm, regulate mood and focus energy.  An addiction not born out of moral weakness, but a desperate attempt to medicate oneself  for an inherited biochemical imbalance.  Had Mr. Downey been properly evaluated by a professional who was skilled in dual diagnosis (addiction with underlying mood disorder), perhaps he could have been spared this barbaric miscarriage of justice.   M.A.C.C.  angrily voices disappointment in a legal system relegated medieval in its reliance on antiquated and mean-spirited "medical" opinion. Mr. Downey, obviously anguished by all appearances, seemingly has everything to live for . . . loving family, stellar career, what could be amiss? He needs help. He wants help. He cannot help himself. Thousands of others acting out this same hopeless scene in courtrooms all across the country need help. A sentence hearing set for December 8 will determine whether Mr. Downey will be sent to yet another pseudo- treatment center or to a real treatment facility with dual diagnosis capabilities. Or to a prison for 3 years. M.A.C.C. will be be watching this highly visible courtroom drama. Will he be cleaning more toilets with a toothbrush or will he get the help he so desperately needs?  Will he be medicated and stabilized for recovery or will he be politically shanghaied as so many of his brothers and sisters are?


MALIBU COURTROOM, DEC 8 1997 . . . ROBERT DOWNEY JR. SENTENCED TO 6 MONTHS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY JAIL . . .           "I have no excuses, I find myself defenseless." Thus spoke Mr. Downey, throwing himself on the "mercy" of the court. And no truer words were ever spoken, for this is exactly what victims of their own addictions are in today's courtrooms . . . defenseless. Though a high-profile case, Mr. Downey is representative of a rapidly growing segment of the population being persecuted nationwide. As he was cuffed and led out by a bailiff,  Mr. Downey flashed a desperately wide-eyed look back at his family who could only look on in anguish. Unfortunately it doesn't end there. After the obligatory 6 months, what then? More ill-advised court-ordered "Rehabs" that don't medicinally treat? More confrontational "therapy" that drives the fragile psyche back to drugs? The future looms dark for the addict without skilled medical help. And for Mr. Downey, 3 years in prison await. It is not a disgrace to need help but it is a disgrace to deny real help to those who so urgently need it. To suggest that the addicted can "beat it" (as even Mr. Downey's father assumed) through sheer willpower, sans medical help, is naive and irrational. Such ignorance has no place in rehabs or courtrooms. It is a scientific fact that crack and crank (methamphetamine, now more prevalent than crack) alter the brain. The longer the addiction, the more difficult the recovery. Couple this with the real possibility of a co-occuring mood disorder (such as bipolar) and we have the virtual impossibility of quitting without medical assistance with anti-anxiety drugs. Anyone so afflicted, can no more take control of their illness than a person who has AIDS. To be an addict, according to Websters, is "to give oneself up to some strong habit". In fact, if one were to say: "I can quit anytime I want to", it would elicit crys of: "You're in denial!" When the court labels a "failure to quit" as a "failure of will", it proves the court to be uninformed. Drug addiction is an illness, not a moral issue --and what we're seeing in the courts is discrimination against this group. To single-out addicts as having no rights by virtue of their illness is no different than criminalizing the physically or mentally challenged. The courts must come out with a statement of regret and intent to decriminalize. Parents who knew the joy of love for their newborn, only to see them grow up and brought low by drugs and further debased by the courts, don't need insult added to injury.

   DOWNEY  RELEASED April 1st, 1998!

Actor Robert Downey Jr. released from jail

LOS ANGELES, April 1 - Actor Robert Downey Jr. has been released from jail after spending four months behind bars for violating his probation on drug and alcohol related charges, authorities said on Wednesday. Downey, who had been due to be released on Wednesday morning, was whisked away from the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles several hours early on Tuesday night to avoid media attention. The actor was driven to a drug and alcohol treatment center, where he is due to spend the next 90 to 100 days finishing his sentence. The name of the facility has not been disclosed. Downey created controversy while in prison by being allowed out on three occasions to finish work on films he was making. He also got into a prison brawl in which he suffered a bloody nose. An appeals court overturned a lower court ruling allowing Downey to be released on work furloughs and a judge subsequently tacked three days on to his jail sentence to make up for the time spent away from prison. But Downey also got 69 days knocked off his 180-day jail term for good behavior.


Robert Downey Jr. sentenced to three years hard time in state prison for violating 1996 probation. His attorney Robert Shapiro told the court (inquisition?ed) that it was "foolish to believe that drugs weren`t going to be available to Robert in state prison. He's suffering from a disease he can`t control. Even prison isn`t enough of a deterrent for him. This will lead to disaster!" Reportedly RDJr. has echoed that prediction by telling friends, "I'm going to wind up dead" MACCs only comment is that RDJrs attorney seems to have gotten an education out of this. Pleas to the "court" fall on deaf ears however. It`s not ignorance (ignorance of the law is no excuse for defendents only anyway!) it`s wicked. Our courts are wicked, meanspirited gulag channels and the sooner we get this straight the sooner we can DO something about it!

UPDATE: 8-30-99     RDJr. transferred to facility "designed" to treat drug addicts. It supposedly houses a "therapeutic community" substance abuse treatment complex for more than a 1,000 inmates. MACC hopes that the facility truly does have "treatment", however one must keep in mind that some prisons purport to have the same but are just shams.

Time will tell...but we certainly wish the best for Mr. Downey.

News Release June 12, 2000

Yesterday, June 12, 2000, in federal district court in Los Angeles, Robert Downey Jr. filed his habeas corpus petition asking the federal district court to order him released on bond while his appeal proceeds in the California state appellate courts. Mr. Downey has resorted to seeking relief from the Los Angeles federal district court because the state appellate court has denied him bail pending appeal without any explanation whatsoever and the California Supreme Court denied Mr. Downey's petition to review that decision. Mr. Downey and his attorneys believe that the state courts' denial of his request for bail pending appeal directly contradicts California's bail statute which contains mandatory language compelling the state to release defendants on bail pending appeal if there is no risk of flight, no danger to the community, and a substantial issue on appeal. Mr. Downey meets all of these prerequisites. Yet, the state courts refuse to grant Mr. Downey's request for bail pending appeal. Since there is no rational basis for the state courts' one sentence summary denials of Mr. Downey's requests for bail pending appeal, Mr. Downey now seeks this relief from the federal court. While asking a federal court to grant bail pending appeal to an individual incarcerated in the state system is a rarely-invoked legal mechanism, this case presents a unique situation warranting such relief. Specifically, in his state appeal, Mr. Downey contends that, under California law governing pre-sentencing custody credits and concurrent sentencing requirements, he has already served his time and should be immediately released. Because this issue is so significant with respect to Mr. Downey's incarceration, and the California bail statute contains mandatory release language, bail pending appeal is the correct resolution of this dispute.

This is a press release from Robert Downey Jr.'s attorneys: Robert J. Waters and Ross A. Nabatoff



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