Downey Lawyers Challenging Legality of Search

Published April 25, 2001

| Associated Press

Robert Downey Jr.'s lawyers are challenging the legality of a hotel room search during the actor's drug possession arrest last fall.

The attorneys for Downey, who is expected for a hearing Monday, have filed motions that include a bid to quash the search warrant and suppress evidence.

Downey, 36, was arrested Nov. 25 at Merv Griffin's Resort Hotel and Givenchy Spa in Palm Springs after police received a 911 call about someone in a hotel room with guns and drugs.

Downey was charged with felony possession of cocaine and Valium and a misdemeanor count of being under the influence of a controlled substance. No weapons were found.

 Downey'sattorneys said in court documents that the Valium and cocaine were obtained illegally by police when they first came to the room and were then used as the basis for the affidavit in support of a search warrant for another search of the room.

Deputy District Attorney Tamara Capone couldn't be reached. In the past, she said there is sufficient evidence to go to trial and that police acted appropriately.

Downey attorney Robert Waters said Monday that the actor's room should not have been searched without a warrant because the only basis for the search was an anonymous 911 call.

 Downey'sattorneys also want the court to suppress evidence seized before and after the search warrant was issued. Among items found in the second search were a small amount of suspected cocaine, a straw and a clear, crystal rock-like substance.

The defense also wants the court to suppress Downey's statement to police that gave officers permission to search his room.

 Downey'sattorneys also are challenging the affidavit supporting the search warrant on the grounds it relied on alleged false statements. The police affidavit in support of the warrant quoted the 911 caller as saying "subjects inside Room 311 had tons of guns and cocaine inside the room."

The attorneys argue the anonymous caller actually stated: "Yeah, I'd just like to let you know that in Room 311 of the Merv Griffin Resort, there's a man that has nearly an ounce of cocaine and a couple of guns and he's pretty unsafe. Thank you."

The defense also filed a motion challenging the legality of the Valium possession charge against Downey and a motion to withdraw his innocent plea to that count. The motion contends Valium possession isn't a crime.

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