Riding out the storm

Friday, December 10, 2010; C02

Thirty-nine years after his death, Jim Morrison has a clean record - at least in Florida. On Thursday, Gov. Charlie Crist requested a pardon for the rock star, which was approved unanimously by the state clemency board.

Back in 1969, Morrison may - or may not, depending on which witness you believed - have exposed himself during a Doors concert in Miami. (Surviving band members said Morrison was drunk but never unzipped for the crowd.) The Florida native denied the charges but was convicted of two misdemeanors and sentenced to six months. He was appealing the verdict when he died in 1971, and it remained in a legal limbo until Crist took up the cause.

Why Morrison? Why now? In previous interviews, Crist said the more he looked into the case, the more he was convinced that the the rocker was innocent. With just two months left in office, he told the clemency board Thursday that Morrison's death "prevented him from exercising his right to a direct appeal, a right given to every American by the United States Constitution." Crist also said his death should have wiped out the conviction because the appeal had not been heard; the pardon restores his presumption of innocence. "In this case, guilt or innocence is in God's hands, not ours," said Crist.

Patricia Kennealy Morrison, who married the musician in a pagan ceremony, told the Associated Press she objected to the pardon because the indecent exposure never happened. "He felt and he expressed to me on numerous occasions that he had been made a scapegoat of the counterculture movement," she said, calling the trial and pardon "a complete cheap, cynical, political ploy."

Does Crist think this is somehow going to help a future political career? Well, the Doors voting block, including all his classmates from George Washington High School in Alexandria, should be pleased.

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