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Special Event

Robert Downey's Drug Trial Begins

Aired January 29, 2001 - 4:44 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Again, to our viewers, we saw the picture just come up here, Robert Downey Jr. coming back into the courtroom now. We're going to listen in. CNN's Paul Vercammen is on the scene there.

Paul, I'm not sure if you can even see this, but Robert Downey Jr. is with his lawyers. They are at their desk and we are waiting to see if they are going to say anything here -- Paul.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we'll see if they do speak up here. We know that he's represented by Daniel Brookman (ph) and Robert Waters (ph) as well as an attorney from down here in Indio, California.

Basically, we expect, like you said before, for this to be a continuance.

CHEN: All right, let's listen.

JUDGE B.J. ORK, RIVERSIDE SUPERIOR COURT: ... 036386. Record can reflect that Mr. Downey is present, that his attorney Mr. Brookman. Ms. Capone (ph) is present on behalf of the district attorney's office.

And do we have a resolution of this case, Ms. Capone?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, Your Honor. Both parties have agreed to a continuance to February 22nd.

ORK: February 22nd -- would that be for the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 21st -- that's a Wednesday afternoon for the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

ORK: For the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Do you claim that there's a good reason for the continuance, Ms. Capone?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your Honor, there is some outstanding discovery that needs to be exchanged between the two parties.

ORK: OK. And Mr. Brookman, this is agreeable with you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Your Honor. For the record, though, I think the record should (UNINTELLIGIBLE) have Robert Waters (UNINTELLIGIBLE). (UNINTELLIGIBLE) are both here also.

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) knowing that it is the court's policy to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and have been working diligently toward that end. However, as counsel for the people has remarked, we are in the process of ongoing discovery. There are a few items that have yet to be obtained through no fault of the people but through outside agencies that were a little slow in getting some evidence.

So we are pursuing the avenues of discovery, and hopefully, on that date, we will have discovery completed.

ORK: OK. And Mr. Downey, this is agreeable with you to waive -- continue to waive your right for a speedy preliminary hearing, one within 60 days, to set this matter for the EDP calendar on February the 21st of this year?

ROBERT DOWNEY JR., ACTOR: Yes, Your Honor.

ORK: OK. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the matter will be continued to the EDP calendar February 21st for 2001, 1:30, again in room 2-K, although (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I normally set the calendar for 2-K, my normal courtroom.

You'll continue on the bond as presently posted, and the court will find that there's some good cause as additional discovery is needed on behalf of the defense. And I take it that the additional counts are in agreement, is that correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Your Honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Your Honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And we have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) stipulation that's been signed by myself and Ms. Capone for the district attorney's office. I'd like to present it to the clerk at this time so the clerk (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ORK: OK. And this is agreeable, Ms. Capone?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is, Your Honor. We'd also ask that Mr. Downey be ordered back to appear on the 21st (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 977 waiver does not yet take effect.

ORK: Let me go ahead and sign the stipulation, order and stipulation for release of exhibit and change of custody, and that will be signed at this point in time.

And now we'll set the matter for February 21st. And of course, there is a 977(a) in the file.

Let me indicate this: Certainly, Mr. Downey has a right to have his attorney appear on his behalf if we're just going to continue the matter, although I would hope that we're not going to continue the matter on the 21st. Hope we do resolve it expeditiously. That's what the EDP calendar is for. And I would order Mr. Downey back, but Mr. Brookman, keep in contact with Ms. Capone. If you are going to resolve the matter, Mr. Downey will have to be present in court. Should you find that for a good cause an additional continuance (UNINTELLIGIBLE) set for the preliminary hearing, then, of course, I would not require Mr. Downey to be present.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ORK: But I would ask that don't accept that as an invitation to try to resolve -- or continue the matter on that date. Let's try to resolve it on the 21st of February. That's what the EDP calendar is for.

Anything further, Ms. Capone?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, thank you, Your Honor.

ORK: Mr. Brookman?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Your Honor.

ORK: Attorneys?

(CROSSTALK)

... 21st, 1:30. And gentlemen, let me indicate that the reason why I called the matter here in 1-A versus 2-K, the news media, as you can tell, has quite an interest in this case, and I have found it's easier to hold the matter in this courtroom rather than in Larson (ph) Building across the street, because it's much more difficult getting into the courtroom, into the courthouse for all the news media and the accompanying video cameras and cables. This is the reason why we put it on over here in 1-A. I'd prefer to do it on over in 2-K, but let us know what's going to happen on the 21st, and we'll work consistently with what we can, try to resolve the entire case.

We'll be in recess until February 21st, 1:30, 2-K, this (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Anything further?

CHEN: Judge Ork's probably understatement of the year: "The media has quite an interest in this case." Robert Downey Jr. appearing in a hearing in Indio, California on drug charges stemming from his arrest back at Thanksgiving.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is joining us back live at Indio, California.

Paul, the judge has continued this until February 21st because of some outstanding discovery issues, he called them. Can you just explain that to our viewers for us?

VERCAMMEN: Yes. Basically, Downey's attorneys were seeking a continuance, and I believe what they want to do, exactly as the discovery evidence in this case, is drug tests. And they want to conduct independent drug tests on the drugs that police allegedly found in Downey's hotel room after his arrest.

Also, another term that you heard was EDP. That's part of the Expedited Drug Program in Indio County. The idea with this is to get drug cases, not serious drug cases, but basically possession cases and others off the books and out of the courtrooms as fast as possible. What can happen at these EDP hearings is both sides comes to a negotiated agreement.

The judge had said he homes there's some resolution, that both sides come to an agreement, and basically offer some sort of plea bargain deal. And that could, of course, happen on the 21st. They could hammer out something before then.

I'm going to kind of look over my shoulder here and show you, if we could pan over here, Greg -- we believe Mr. Downey may exit the courtroom there, although I believe the last time he was here he went off and took a different direction. And the prosecutor, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Capone, has promised us that she will talk to the media after. And we're prepared to get her thoughts if she comes out.

So, that's the latest, Robert Downey Jr. offered a continuance in the latest drug proceedings here in Indio, California.

Back to you now, Joie.

CHEN: All right, Paul Vercammen for us in Indio as well.

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