Actor Robert Downey Jr. gets Christmas Eve pardon for drug convictions in 1990s

LOS ANGELES -- California Gov. Jerry Brown bestowed a Christmas Eve pardon to actor Robert Downey Jr. for his drug convictions in the 1990s, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

The newspaper said Downey was one of 91 people to whom the governor granted clemency for past crimes.

Downey had a long history of drug problems, including repeated arrests in 1996 for cocaine, heroin and marijuana possession.  He went several times through drug treatment programs unsuccessfully, explaining in 1999 to a judge: "It's like I've got a shotgun in my mouth with my finger on the trigger, and I like the taste of the gun metal." He explained his relapses by claiming to have been addicted to drugs since the age of eight, due to the fact that his father, also an addict, had been giving them to him.


He served a total of two years, 8 months, and in 2002 he completed his parole.

According to the Times, Downey obtained an order from a Los Angeles County Superior Judge finding he has since "lived an honest and upright life, exhibited good moral character, and conducted himself as a law-abiding citizen."

The Times said the pardon reads, "... By completion of his sentence and good conduct in the community of his residence since his release, Robert John Downey, Jr. has paid his debt to society and earned a full and unconditional pardon."

The governor's office said in a written statement, "Pardons are not granted unless they are earned."