Forty-one years after Jim Morrison was arrested in Miami for indecent exposure at a concert, Florida Governor Charlie Crist has decided to pardon the late Doors frontman. “After reviewing the case and getting briefed on it, more and more it seems like a real injustice was done,” Crist tells Rolling Stone. “It seemed to me that it would be a tragedy to have this be the lasting legacy of his life. I just wanted to give an opportunity for forgiveness.” The pardon will go through after a formal clemency meeting on
December 9th. Crist does not think it will meet any opposition.
Crist admits that the pardon is largely a symbolic gesture. “It’s the symbolism of doing what’s right,” says Crist. “But I’m pretty sure that it’s more than symbolic to his family. I used to be attorney general and my predecessor taught me that it’s very important to prosecute the guilty, but it may even be more important to exonerate the innocent.”
Morrison was arrested after a 1969 concert at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami for indecent exposure, even though there was never any proof he actually exposed himself. The incident caused several subsequent Doors concerts to be cancelled and many believe that it hastened the demise of the group.
In reviewing the evidence, Crist believes that the Miami authorities unjustly went after Morrison because he was a counter-culture icon. “It has the appearance of that, at a minimum,” says Crist. “The spouse of the now-deceased Assistant Attorney General who handled the case recently said her husband thought there was ‘flimsy evidence.’ That clearly puts forward a bit of doubt about the case itself.”
Crist, whose term as Florida Governor expires on January 4th, says that this won’t be his final pardon. “I’m getting lots of requests in the past few weeks of a similar nature,” he says. “But none with the sort of noteworthiness of Jim Morrison.”