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Downey Trial to Receive Intense Media Attention

Aired January 29, 2001 - 4:35 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: CNN's Paul Vercammen is following the story in Indio, California.

Paul, can you talk about the amount of press coverage underway today, and what they are expecting out of the hearing?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's an interesting question, because there is a huge presence from all of the major networks and some of the local stations and the Los Angeles stations, as well as major magazines -- I know "People" Magazine is here, and "Extra" is here and some of the stations of that nature.

But, from everything that we have been told today, and especially having talked to the prosecutor in this case, this really has a whiff of a simple, quick, in and out situation with the courtroom today. Tamara Capone (ph) told me -- she's a prosecutor -- that she thinks it's just routine, and that they'll go in, and they'll grant his continuance.

However, she also said that both sides have been talking, and in talking, that would be to reach some sort of plea bargain or settlement, and other prosecutors in this county said that, with these types of drug cases, they do settle -- 50 to 75 percent of them -- they don't go to a preliminary hearing, some sort of deal is hammered out -- sometimes there's prison involved, sometimes there's not. Obviously, there's some sort of mandated -- court mandated drug treatment program. So, that is the sort of thing that should be in the works, but as she entered the courtroom, the prosecutor said that there was no 11th hour effort by either side to hammer out a deal today, and that's why it looks like a continuance.

I think, a lot of folks that are here right now in the media -- they've all gone inside -- are here protectively, and you will note, when you watch the proceedings, there will just be a massive, massive flash of still photographers, cameras and the judge here has some interesting rules: he will not let you chew gum in the courtroom, he doesn't want any hats in the courtroom, but apparently, he doesn't mind that all the still photographers in the world snap away, because some judges have a problem with that, and they usually assign someone to be a pool still photographer -- he's let everybody go inside the courtroom here.

CHEN: So, Paul, let me interrupt you -- are they not expecting Downey to say anything at all? VERCAMMEN: I don't believe he has to. The judge has ordered that he be here, and has said to him that he needs to show up every time they do have some sort of hearing, but I don't believe that Downey must talk and I don't think he will. He entered his plea, after all, at his arraignment a little over a month ago, and he entered a plea of not guilty, so I do not think, unless he is addressed by the judge, that he has to speak today.

CHEN: All right, Paul, we will ask you to stand by as we are awaiting more from that courtroom in Indio, California; the hearing for Robert Downey, Jr.

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