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Florida Clemency Board pardons Jim Morrison for 1969 Miami incident

TALLAHASSEE — The state board of clemency voted unanimously Thursday at the recommendation of Gov. Charlie Crist to grant a posthumous pardon to rock icon Jim Morrison of the Doors, convicted of exposing himself during a 1969 Miami concert.

The pardon was granted over the objection of a former Miami police officer who said it sent the wrong message to the nation's youth and that a pardon was tantamount to accusing officers involved in the incident of perjury.

But Crist said it was not about retrying the case but about forgiveness.

In 1970, a jury convicted Morrison of indecent exposure and open profanity, though he was cleared of a felony count of lewd and lascivious behavior and public drunkenness. He was sentenced to six months in jail, but died two years later at age 27 in Paris while the case was under appeal.

Whether Morrison ever actually exposed himself during the concert, however, has been a matter of intense speculation and debate over the years.

After he was asked repeatedly about the case by a reporter, Gov. Charlie Crist decided to look into it. After reviewing the record, Crist decided last month to pursue the pardon because he wasn't convinced that Morrison did "what he was charged with here."

Although there are many photographs of the concert, none showed Morrison exposing himself. And there was no video or other tangible evidence, Crist said. "We really don't know if the alleged act occurred," Crist said.

A half-dozen prosecution witnesses, including police working the concert, said they saw what they saw, but plenty of defense witnesses said they saw nothing.

Crist said it was possible the jury felt it was more important to score a point in the raging culture war at the time than being right.

"He was a young guy who maybe, or maybe not, made a mistake," Crist said. "It strikes me that everyone deserves a second chance. You have to have the capacity for forgiveness."

Crist called Morrison an iconic figure in music history and a tremendous talent.

Morrison recited poetry at Beaux Arts, a gallery and coffee house that was in Pinellas Park, and was a student at what was then St. Petersburg Junior College before transferring to Florida State University.

A group of ardent Doors fans has been working for more than 12 years to persuade a Florida governor to consider a pardon.

It takes the vote of three out of four members of the Board of Clemency to get a pardon. Besides Crist, the board was composed of Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson — all of them outgoing.

Florida Clemency Board pardons Jim Morrison for 1969 Miami incident 12/09/10 [Last modified: Thursday, December 9, 2010 8:53pm]
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