Vindication! We present Part 2 of The Doors Examiner’s coverage of Jim Morrison’s 2010 pardon for the Miami incident. This time we consider the aftermath and impact of the decision, with reactions from The Doors and Morrison’s family, the media, and Doors fan Dave Diamond who campaigned for the pardon. Finally, we present the raw video of the hearing itself.
Jim Morrison Pardoned!
Jim Morrison has been pardoned from the charges stemming from his obscenity conviction from the March 1, 1969 performance at the Dinner Key Theater by a unanimous vote of the Florida Board of Clemency.
The effort to pardon Jim Morrison has been actively pushed for by fans for the last 10 years with petitions being circulated and presented to former Florida governors such as Jeb Bush, and present Governor Charlie Crist. Prior to the hearings Crist said “What I do know is that if someone hasn’t committed a crime, that should be recognized, we live in a civil society that understands that lasting legacy of a human being, and maybe the last act for which they may be known, is something that never occurred in the first place, it’s never a bad idea to try to right a wrong.”
Jim Morrison now has a presumption of innocence regarding the Miami charges and most fans would agree a miscarriage of justice has been corrected.
The source for this article was CNN.
Originally published December 12, 2010, approx 4:30pm central time. This article appears in The Doors Examined.
Reaction to Jim Morrison’s Pardon
“And death not ends it…” -Jim Morrison, “An American Prayer”
Just as Jim Morrison’s death didn’t stop fans from seeking Morrison’s pardon from the Miami obscenity conviction, the pardon itself has reverberated and seems to have struck a chord, and over the weekend and into today is being reported and commented on across the world and in some very unlikely places.
Morrison’s pardon is being widely reported on starting with the AP (Associated Press) in the article “Pardon Doesn’t Change Doors History”. While quoting Robby Krieger heavily, the article talks about how the Dinner Key Performance affected The Doors career. The Times Union in Albany, New York has distinctly positive view of the pardon in simply “Vindication for Morrison.”
There are, of course, the detractors, those that don’t like The Doors, Jim Morrison, or the pardon but still, nonetheless, are compelled to comment on it. One example is the Marco News’ “Jim Morrison Pardon Provides Rock Star Status to Legal Proceedings.” While a CharlottesVille News and Arts writer has a particularly negative opinion in his Feedback column.
The music press of course chimed in (Rolling Stone, “Jim Morrison Pardoned By Florida Clemency Board“).
Then there are some unusual sources, places I never would have thought of looking if not for Google. The Wall Street Journal’s “Jim Morrison Pardoned,” Legal Briefs. Blogs too have been weighing in: “Jim Morrison’s Posthumous Peen Pardoned.” The news of the pardon has even hit the news. The video below is NBC’s Nightly News report on the pardon.
This isn’t by any means a complete list of those reporting on the pardon they’re the ones I thought were the most interesting.
Originally published December 13, 2010. Not all the stories mentioned in this article are still active. We have provided links to the stories that are still online.
Jim Morrison Pardon: Patricia Kennealy’s Reaction
Amid the news of the recent Jim Morrison pardon was a dissenting voice, that of Patricia Kennealy (Morrison). Ms. Kennealy is famous for “marrying” Morrison in a Wicca handfasting ceremony.
Ms. Kennealy is a lightning rod of controversy in The Doors community. Many fans believe she was just another of Morrison’s girlfriends, and Morrison is reported to have said the handfasting ceremony was a fun thing to do. Others whole-heartedly support Kennealy’s claims and the use of the title Mrs. Morrison. Prior to the pardon Keannealy e-mailed Florida Governor Charlie Crist not to pardon Morrison. Since the pardon went through CNN interviewed Kennealy and she offered her viewpoint.
Kennealy gave the opinion that Morrison viewed the conviction as a political set-up on the part of the establishment, and that Morrison would: “hate, loathe, detest, and despise the whole idea…no doubt he would rip the pardon into tiny pieces. He did nothing to be pardoned for.” Kennealy said she would have preferred the expungement of Morrison’s record.
This article was originally published December 18, 2010, and appears in The Doors Examined.
The Doors-Morrison Family Reaction to Jim Morrison’s Pardon
The Doors in conjunction with the Morrison family have issued a press release concerning the recent pardoning of Jim Morrison by the Florida Board of Clemency. Here is the statement in full.
“In 1969 the Doors played an infamous concert in Miami, Florida. Accounts vary as to what actually happened on stage that night.
“Whatever took place that night ended with The Doors sharing beers and laughter in the dressing room with the Miami police, who acted as security at the venue that evening. No arrests were made. The next day we flew off to Jamaica for a few days’ vacation before our planned 20-city tour of America.
“That tour never materialized. Four days later, warrants were issued in Miami for the arrest of Morrison on trumped-up charges of indecency, public obscenity, and general rock-and-roll revelry. Every city The Doors were booked into canceled their engagement.
“A circus of fire-and-brimstone “decency” rallies, grand jury investigations and apocalyptic editorials followed – not to mention allegations ranging from the unsubstantiated (he exposed himself) to the fantastic (the Doors were “inciting a riot” but also “hypnotizing” the crowd).
“In August, Jim Morrison went on trial in Miami. He was acquitted on all but two misdemeanor charges and sentenced to six months’ hard labor in Raiford Penitentiary. He was appealing this conviction when he died in Paris on July 3, 1971. Four decades after the fact, with Jim an icon for multiple generations – and those who railed against him now a laughingstock – Florida has seen fit to issue a pardon.
“We don’t feel Jim needs to be pardoned for anything.
“His performance in Miami that night was certainly provocative, and entirely in the insurrectionary spirit of The Doors’ music and message. The charges against him were largely an opportunity for grandstanding by ambitious politicians – not to mention an affront to free speech and a massive waste of time and taxpayer dollars. As Ann Woolner of the Albany Times-Union wrote recently, “Morrison’s case bore all the signs of a political prosecution, a rebuke from the cultural right to punish a symbol of Dionysian rebellion.”
“If the State of Florida and the City of Miami want to make amends for the travesty of Jim Morrison’s arrest and prosecution forty years after the fact, an apology would be more appropriate – and expunging the whole sorry matter from the record. And how about a promise to stop letting culture-war hysteria trump our First Amendment rights? Freedom of Speech must be held sacred, especially in these reactionary times.
The Morrison Family”
Originally published December 22, 2010.
The Doors Examiner Interview with Dave Diamond
Dave Diamond was a Doors fan, no different than you or I, but a phone call to Doors manager (at the time) Danny Sugerman on an entirely different matter, altered his life. When he asked Sugerman about the status of Jim Morrison’s conviction from the charges stemming from ‘the Miami incident,’ Sugerman’s answer to the question led Diamond into a ten year quest of seeking justice for Jim Morrison.
Diamond’s efforts to get Jim Morrison led him to working in concert with The Doors Collector Magazine. This work included writing several Florida governors making a case for the pardon, filing of legal documents, and making a video that answered the questions and making the case for Morrison’s pardon to fans and detractors alike.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Diamond about the pardon effort. This is the first interview Mr. Diamond has given since Jim Morrison’s recent pardon.
DE: Let’s start at the very beginning, how did you get into The Doors?
DD: I was about 8 or 9 years old at a house of a friend of mine and his older brother had several Doors records in his collection. I remember him playing the Strange Days album and I certainly recall hearing “When The Music’s Over” for the first time. I recall being blown away by hearing that song, because it was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. You just don’t forget a song like that! From then on, I was instantly hooked on the catalog and over the years, like many of my fellow hardcore Doors fans, I built up a collection of their finest studio and live material.
DE: What made you an active partisan of seeking Jim Morrison’s pardon?
DD: My personal participation in the effort to get Jim Morrison pardoned happened by accident. I didn’t set about or plan any of this. I had a brief phone conversation with late Doors manager Danny Sugerman sometime in 2000. I’d been working on a public access television production and I wanted to use some excerpts from the Live At The Hollywood Bowl performance, so that was my initial reason was for speaking with Danny. During that conversation, I asked Danny about this Morrison pardon effort that I saw on the Doors Collectors Magazine website. Danny told me that it was a fan-driven effort to collect signatures for a petition to get Florida officials to look at Morrison’s Miami case. I asked Danny what was the end result of Morrison’s case and he told me Jim was found guilty on two charges and that the whole trial was one big joke. I asked Danny if he and his lawyers had ever tried to contact Florida officials to get a re-review of the case because a petition, I felt, was not strong enough to make any sitting Governor take notice. Danny said no, nothing had been done since the original 1970 trial and all hopes of getting any justice for Jim Morrison were pretty much dashed when Jim died. To be honest, I wasn’t satisfied with Danny’s answers to my questions over the disposition of the case, so I told Danny I would do my own research and see what, if anything, could be done, as far as legal options. Keep in mind, this was 2000, way before September 11th, 2001 and way before the start of the Afghanistan & Iraq wars! It was a different period of time when I first took an interest in Morrison’s case. In or around that time, Danny was very sick and as we know, he passed away in 2005. But, he was still healthy enough at that time to tell me he would like to see something, anything, happen that would make this Morrison vs. Miami case disappear and he told me that anything I could do to help would be much appreciated by the Morrison family and the surviving Doors members. I took that comment very seriously! So, in a nutshell, it was that phone call with Danny where my own participation started. Keep in mind, the effort had pretty much started in 1996 by the staff of Doors Collectors Magazine. They’d already done a lot of research and written several articles on the matter before I got involved. Contrary to popular belief via many in the media, I am not the “architect” of the Jim Morrison pardon effort. By the time I got involved, the effort was already four years old.
DE: Do you think the video helped in the pardon effort? Such as getting the word out to fans, and the general public? Do you think the video hastened the pardon happening?
DD: The You Tube interview I gave in 2007 was in response to the story finally becoming public on a much larger scale. Many in the print media were stunned, shocked and surprised that then Florida Governor Charlie Crist acknowledged the effort and my letter to him, in particular, we needed to get information out to the world about our work on this effort. We needed to move fast after the Associated Press broke this news because up to that point, we really didn’t have a “spokesperson” for this Morrison pardon effort. I became the “de facto spokesperson” for this issue because of that 2007 You Tube interview video, after my local media had interviewed me about my letter to Governor Crist.
I do believe the video interview I did shed much more spotlight on the Morrison pardon issue because I answered many questions that the media, Doors fans and music historians were asking about this issue. The video interview also helped galvanize many Doors fans around the world to write their own letters to Governor Crist, also asking for the pardon. I was very determined not to let the mainstream media hijack this story and try to turn this pardon effort into some sort of joke. We were very clear from day one that this was not a joke or some sort of public relations stunt. This was the real deal, so the You Tube interview was necessary for us to do to very simply explain to anyone interested as to the reasons for our work on this Morrison case.
DE: Do you think the pardon came about because the world has finally caught up with Jim Morrison? Or that his contemporary audience had finally taken the reins of power and righted an injustice of their generation?
DD: Great questions, and the answer is both! Many longtime Doors fans and historians recognized that this case should have never happened. We can all reasonably agree that Jim Morrison never should have been arrested in the first place. As Robby Krieger has said so many times, the Doors were backstage after the Miami concert, drinking beers and laughing with the Miami police. If they didn’t have probable cause right then and there to arrest him, then it shouldn’t have happened in the days that followed. But, as we all know by now, the conservatives in Florida at the time, saw a huge opportunity to make Jim Morrison the example. Several questions I’ve been constantly asked is, why now, forty one years later? Isn’t it too late for Morrison to have been pardoned? Obviously, we had no control over when the pardon would have been issued. Again, the effort started in 1996. It could have been wrapped up then, by former Florida Governor Lawton Chiles. But, Morrison’s case, which was loaded with constitutional and legal flaws, kept getting ignored and kicked down the road by one Governor after another after another until finally Governor Crist addressed the matter once and for all. It took incredible patience and persistence on our part to stick with this case, year after year, from then to now.
The passage of time, the emergence of newer evidence, which included a witness in 2010 who came forward and admitted perjury under oath and other legal precedents that we collected and were able to apply to Morrison’s case during our research – all of these components made it impossible for any Governor to further ignore this Morrison case, once the media got wind of our work. We successfully circled the wagons around Tallahassee and once Governor Crist made the commitment publicly, we knew it was just a matter of time for final resolution to occur, albeit forty one years later.
DE: Have the efforts to have Morrison’s record expunged begun? What are the steps taken so far? What else needs to be done? What if anything can fans do to help in this process?
DD: I need to clarify the issue of expunging, thank you for asking this particular question. First off, no, there is no current or future effort to seek expunging. There is nothing more to be done in the Morrison vs. Miami case. Effective 12-9-10, Jim Morrison is no longer guilty of anything relating to what has become known as the “Miami Incident.” Some critics have advised that Morrison didn’t do anything to be pardoned for and that expunging would have been the better avenue. I disagree, and have since backtracked my own beliefs on the necessity of expunging. We all know Jim was not a criminal. But, a jury disagreed and came back with two guilty verdicts and they were botched verdicts, too. They found him guilty on the exposure charge, which was not legally proven, but yet, they found him not guilty on the charge of public intoxication, which we know Morrison obviously was. Some feel the pardon didn’t go far enough. My response to that is the pardon did exactly what the pardon was supposed to do. The pardon attacked those two verdicts by that jury and renders them null and void. With the jury verdicts wiped out, Morrison was taken back to his pre-arrest innocence, thus making expunging and dismissal no longer necessary. All expunging would do is very simply seal Jim Morrison’s Miami criminal record so that you and I couldn’t access it through Freedom of Information Act. Think about it – the Miami case is such a huge part of the Doors legacy. How or why would anyone consider expunging, now that the pardon has been issued? How is anyone going to seriously believe that they can expunge this Miami case out of the minds of over ten million Doors fans? It’s impossible and no longer legally necessary to contemplate expunging. Plus, I’ll also point out, the only people who can initiate expunging is the Morrison blood family and their lawyers. At this point, there’s very simply no longer a need to do anything further. The case is officially closed, as of 12-9-10, with no further action needed now or down the road.
DE: How has the pardon effort affected your opinion of our judicial system?
DD: Times had certainly changed since Jim Morrison’s original case in 1970. What made the difference and what changed this from a fan-driven effort to an all-out legal matter was the action that the Appellate Court took in the late Kenneth Lay’s Enron trial. When Ken Lay died, the Appellate Court within months abated his case and his convictions. Once I made that connection between Lay’s case disposition and Morrison’s case, it was the legal leverage we needed to present this to Governor Crist and the Florida Clemency Board. We didn’t make up any new information or facts about Morrison’s case. All we did was very simply work within existing public record and other information that was already out there and connected the dots to move this case forward. My faith in the judicial system is there. I do believe justice delayed is justice denied. My response to those folks who say this pardon was too late is that the US Constitution works retroactively. Just because someone dies, that doesn’t mean their constitutional right die with them. Contrary to popular belief, we didn’t “re-open” this Morrison case. The original case from 1970 was never officially closed! There was never a motion to dismiss or abate filed upon or after Morrison’s death, as was done in the Ken Lay matter.
Governor Crist and the Clemency Board did not have the authority to dismiss this case outright, since this matter was not before a criminal or appellate court, but they did have the authority to attack and wipe out the jury’s verdicts and that’s exactly what they did!
I made a strategic decision not to involve lawyers these last ten years. At no time was a lawyer ever on the payroll by me or Doors Collectors Magazine. We did all of this without a lawyer on our side, although we did get a lot of free advice and moral support from many interested lawyers over the years. My thinking was, many lawyers screwed this case up the first time around, so why would we again involve them? Hypothetically though, if we had had lawyers involved, we might have possibly been able to get this case back into court for a full dismissal, but my thinking was, that would have been a gigantic waste of money and time for all involved. The pardon was the best, the last and the only remedy left for us to pursue. I’ll also point out to the critics out there who felt all of this was a waste of taxpayer money, this was a self-funded effort. The pardon of Morrison cost the state of Florida little to nothing. But, all resources combined, the pardon effort cost me personally upwards of three thousand dollars, over a ten year span. Governor Charlie Crist took a forty one year old legal mess left behind by former Florida Governor Claude Kirk and flushed this matter once and for all. The surviving Doors stated a few weeks after the pardon was issued that an apology would be acceptable and I couldn’t agree with them more! The person who owes the Doors, the Morrison family and any other connected people with this case an apology is not Governor Crist, but rather, Governor Kirk. He is the one who signed the extradition order and the original indictment against Jim Morrison and allowed this case to proceed. Governor Kirk could have put a stop to all of this, but chose not to, because he was close friends with President Richard Nixon. A lot of people may not know, but Kirk was Nixon’s choice to be Vice President, had Nixon not chosen Sprio Agnew! So, obviously we see the power structure as far as those responsible for Morrison’s prosecution! Several months before the Morrison pardon, Governor Kirk gave some scathing comments to the press, calling Jim a junkie and saying the original trial was indeed, very fair and that this pardon was a waste of time. My faith in the Florida judicial system was kind of restored by Governor Crist, but when I hear Governor Kirk’s comments, I cringe. Let’s face it, Florida doesn’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to First Amendment cases, if you recall the rap group 2 Live Crew and how they were handled in the 1989-1990 period.
DE: What do you think is the mystique of The Doors that keeps people coming to the group?
DD: The mystique is within the lyrics and music of the Doors, period, not because of Jim’s actions in Miami! The Doors will continue to influence for many generations to come with their words and music. At the end of the day, the Doors are gifted musicians and poets. Their music and written work should be celebrated and treasured for those reasons and not because of some off-night concert from forty one years ago.
DE: Thank you for talking with us today.
Originally published May 26, 2011.