What to get for the billionaire playboy who has everything this Christmas? A Christmas Eve pardon, of course!
Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr. had an extra merry Christmas this week when he received a Christmas Eve pardon from Gov. Jerry Brown for a 1996 drug conviction. The Christmas Eve pardon has become somewhat of a tradition over the years, and RDJ was one of 91 people to be granted clemency for past crimes, mostly minor and many no longer considered felonies under Californian law. CNN reports that in order to qualify for the pardon, convicted individuals must keep their records clean for more than a decade following release from prison.
The governor's 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 also issued a statement which made clear that Downey Jr.'s pardon was not given because of the actor's status, writing "pardons are not granted unless they are earned." According to the LA Times, Brown has granted executive clemency to 1,087 people in total, including 683 since he returned to office in 2011 (Brown was also Governor of California between 1975 and 1983).
Downey Jr. has a long history of run-ins with the law, mostly involving his heavy addiction to drugs. In 1996 the actor was repeatedly arrested, including when he was pulled over by cops for driving under the influence, and also found to be in possession of a gun, cocaine, and heroin. One month later he was arrested for trespassing after he passed out in a neighbor's spare bedroom. The 50-year-old has had several stints in jail over the years, serving a total of two years and eight months behind bars, finally completing his parole in 2002.
The Christmas Eve pardon comes two months after the actor was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in October, something which was established in 2006 to honor "legendary people who embody California's innovative spirit and have made their mark on history."
While RDJ is yet to speak out directly about the pardon, he did post a video of himself in the 1995 short film Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree to his social media accounts with the caption "You're only on the naughty list if you get caught... #HappyAlmostChristmas."