The Doors singer’s conviction for whipping out his privates during a Miami concert in 1969 forgiven
The Governor said he would do it and the man kept his word.
One day after the Doors frontman would have turned 67, Gov. Charlie Crist petitioned the Florida Clemency Board to pardon Jim Morrison for allegedly exposing himself in Miami back in 1969 – and they did.
Mr. Mojo Rising, as Morrison was sometimes called, supposedly whipped out his privates and stimulated masturbation in front of 10,000 fans in March 1969. Crist has said on a number of occasions that he felt there were doubts on whether or not one of Florida’s most famous sons actually did exposed himself four decades ago or not.
Morrison, who died in Paris in 1971, was later found guilty of two misdemeanor charges after a 1970 trial. The singer, who was slapped with indecent exposure and “open profanity,” was sentenced to a $500 fine and half a year in jail He appealed the sentence and was released on $50,000 bond, Morrison, who was actually born in the Sunshine State, died before the case went any further.
Despite protest from several police officers, the board, of which soon to be former Governor Christ is a member, voted unanimously to pardon Morrison.
Read Gov. Charlie Crist’s complete remarks to Florida Board of Executive Clemency below –
James Douglas Morrison – we know him as Jim Morrison – appealed the judgment and sentence he received after being convicted 40 years ago of two misdemeanors. However, he died before his appeal could be heard.
Because he us unable to state his case for clemency before this board today, I offer to do so for him.
The charges against Mr. Morrison stemmed from his alleged actions at a now-famous 1969 musical performance by The Doors in Miami. During the trial, the prosecution attempted to prove that Mr. Morrison indecently exposed himself, simulated indecent acts, and uttered profanities.
Mr. Morrison admitted to using some of the alleged profanity; however, he denied the other charges.
During the trial, some witnesses testified they saw the alleged acts for which he was charged; however, many others testified they observed the entire concert and never saw them. In fact, so many witnesses corroborated Mr. Morrison’s testimony that the judge eventually stopped the defense from presenting any more – because their collective testimony became, what is known in legal terms as, “cumulative testimony.”
Nevertheless, a jury convicted Mr. Morrison. The judge then sentenced him to six months of hard labor.
Much controversy surrounds this conviction, and not only because many witnesses testified they did not see Mr. Morrison expose himself.
Controversy also exists because Mr. Morrison was not arrested until four days after the concert. A case was brought against him only after newspaper articles recounted the alleged events at the concert, based on a complaint filed by an employee of the state attorney’s office who attended the concert.
In addition, Mr. Morrison may have been improperly prevented from presenting evidence of “community standards” of other rock performances of the era. Such testimony would have offered cultural context for the allegations against him.
Perhaps most importantly, Mr. Morrison himself did not exercise his right to remain silent. Instead, he forcefully denied the charge that he exposed himself on stage.
Mr. Morrison appealed his judgment and sentence; however, he died before the appeal was heard. His death prevented him from exercising his right to a direct appeal, a right given to every American by the United States Constitution. If his appeal had been heard, a reviewing court could have resolved the controversies surrounding his conviction.
In addition, at the time of Morrison’s death, a convicted defendant who died before his appeal was heard was entitled to have the conviction dismissed so that he was again presumed innocent. This doctrine, known as “abatement ab initio,” wiped the slate clean – as though the conviction had never taken place. A pardon corrects the fact that Mr. Morrison is now unable to take advantage of the presumption of innocence that is the cornerstone of the American criminal justice system.
The words of an appellate judge, penned a decade before Mr. Morrison’s trial, provide insight into the question before us today: When death prevents the accused from appealing his judgment, the conviction is “a nullity” and “[j]urisdiction to determine the issue of guilt or innocence is now assumed by the ultimate arbiter of human affairs.”
In this case, guilt or innocence is in God’s hands, not ours. That is why I ask my colleagues today to pardon Jim Morrison.
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