Robert Downey Jr. Pleads Not Guilty

ByABC News

I N D I O, Calif., Dec. 27, 2000 -- Robert Downey Jr. pleaded not guilty today to new drug charges stemming from his Thanksgivingweekend arrest at a desert resort.

Downey, 35, who was arrested only four months after beingreleased from prison in another drug case, entered not guilty pleasto felony possession of cocaine and felony possession of thetranquilizer diazepam, each punishable by up to three years instate prison.

Downey Up for Golden Globe

The actor, nominated last week for a Golden Globe for hisrecurring role on the TV show Ally McBeal, also pleadednot guilty to a misdemeanor charge of being under the influence of acontrolled substance, which carries a maximum one-year jailsentence.

He also pleaded not guilty to a one-year prison enhancement forhis prior drug conviction.

The Oscar-nominated star of Chaplin eluded a media throngoutside the courthouse 130 miles east of Los Angeles by enteringthrough a side door about 8 a.m.

During the brief arraignment before Superior Court Judge B.J.Bjork, Downey let his lawyer, Daniel Brookman, do the talking. Thelawyer entering the pleas on the actor’s behalf.

No Drama This Time

There was no drama like a previous appearance in Malibu when hedescribed his drug problems: “It’s like I’ve got a shotgun in mymouth, with my finger on the trigger, and I like the taste of thegun metal,” Downey told a judge in 1999.

Today, Downey was asked at one point if he understood hisconstitutional rights and the actor stood and replied, “Yes, yourhonor.”

Brookman then said “not guilty” to the charges.

Brookman argued unsuccessfully before entering the pleas that heneeded more time to examine evidence made available Dec. 22,evidence that included audio tapes. The lawyer also said he hasn’treviewed laboratory results.

Noting charges were filed Dec. 11, Riverside County DeputyDistrict Attorney Patricia Kelly said prosecutors weren’t requiredto produce evidence until 30 days before trial and postponement ofarraignment wasn’t warranted.

“There is no valid reason behind it,” she said.

The judge agreed.

“There isn’t good legal cause for a continuance,” the judgesaid, adding, “The motion for a continuation of the arraignment isdenied.”

Another hearing was scheduled for Jan. 29.

Downey signed a waiver that allows pretrial hearings to proceedwithout his presence. Downey must appear Jan. 29, however.

The actor was arrested Nov. 25 after an anonymous 911 call ledpolice investigators to a room at Merv Griffin’s Resort Hotel andGivenchy Spa. The police allegedly found Downey with cocaine andmethamphetamine.

After Downey’s arrest, his publicist assessed his client’ssituation.

“He’s a recovering addict. Recovering addicts have relapses.He’s working hard at his sobriety as he has for the last 18months,” spokesman Alan Nierob said.

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