California Judge Bids to Let Downey Cut A Deal

A judge yesterday urged prosecutors and defense lawyers cut a plea-bargain for troubled drug-using actor Robert Downey Jr.

Downey, wearing a charcoal-gray sports coat, open-collar white tuxedo shirt and dark shoes and slacks, appeared before Riverside County Judge B.J. Bjork and a jury box filled with frantically snapping photographers. 

The judge had originally set yesterday as a deadline for a plea bargain, but he extended the window to next month. 

"Let's try to resolve it on the 21st of February," Bjork firmly told lawyers. 

Cops busted Downey on Thanksgiving weekend inside a posh Palm Springs hotel room, eventually charging him with two felonies for cocaine and Valium possession and one misdemeanor for being intoxicated. 

Downey, 35, could get probation or face up to 56 months in the slammer if convicted on all three counts. 

The talented actor's career is on the upswing despite his legal woes. Earlier this month, he won a Golden Globe award for his role on the Fox TV hit Ally McBeal

"He continues to remain upbeat," defense lawyer Daniel Brookman said. "He is very pleased with his recent professional successes." 

Upon leaving the courthouse, Downey fought his way through TV cameras and supporters without saying a word. His handlers then shoved him into a dark sedan with tinted windows and whisked him off. 

Prosecutor Tamara Capone said she is confident a deal will be struck next month, avoiding what would likely be a sensational trial. 

"Both sides are communicating well," Capone said, hinting that Downey will have to face court-ordered drug treatment. "It's in everyone's interest that he does get off of drugs." in a move the county typically seeks for nonviolent drug offenders.