State of Florida vs. Jim Morrison


MIAMI – A year and a half after the controversial concert at Dinner Key Auditorium in Coconut Grove, Florida, Jim Morrison is back nearby Miami to stand trial for his alleged indecent performance.
The State of Florida vs. James Morrison began in criminal court on August 10th, and has been in session every other day. The trial is expected to last six to ten weeks. The six-person jury is made up of two white men, two black men and two white women. The State has so far called six witnesses to testify to the acts Morrison is charged with: a felony, lewd and lascivious behavior; and three misdemeanors, indecent exposure, open profanity and drunkenness. All counts could bring him sentence of three years in jail.
Morrison’s lawyer’s argument is that the singer’s use of four letter words and “lewd” conduct is acceptable by present community standards, in regard to books, theater, and X-rated movies. And that with rock, a voice of dissent, Morrison has the constitutional right to free expression.
The Metropolitan Dade County Justice Building is a 15-minute drive from the Carillon on Miami Beach where the Doors are staying. The Carillon is a medium-priced resort hotel with a vast beige marble lobby and crystal chandelier. It’s 8AM on Monday, August 10th, and Morrison’s attorney from Beverly Hills, Max Fink, and Doors press agent Mike Gershman are standing by the red courtesy phones waiting.
Morrison appears, walking slowly through the lobby, carrying a black Scholastic notebook. He has a full beard, is wearing brown cowboy boots, black jeans, a white peasant shirt and has a navy embroidered caftan jacket under his arm.
Following him is Babe Hill, a bearded dude who did the sound on two Morrison films. The split for the courthouse, and finally the other Doors, Ray, Robbie and John appear on the Morrison case, steps by with 150 glossy 8×10 photographs of the concert to be used as evidence. None prove there was any exposure. Morrison in the pictures is alternately the demon and the clown, and glancing at the assortment in the hallway for the first time. Jim enjoys them immensely. “Yes that’s where I’m supposedly giving head to Robbie’s guitar,” that had belongs to Moonfire, and that lamb was purring amidst all that chaos,” “I look sort of satanic there, taking the lamb to the slaughter,” “yeah, yeah and the band played on,” “you know I’m beginning to believe I’m innocent!”
Jude Goodman himself uses clear nail polish on his nails. Judge Goodman is up for reelection in the fall. Morrison is red-faced with sunburn, and wearing a black leather vest. Terrence McWilliams, the young prosecutor, has got large jeweled cufflinks, an orange shirt and an olive green suit.
Max Fink is wearing a custom grey suit. He rises to move for dismissal of the charges as fraud. Goodman wishes to proceed to jury selection and dismisses the motion.
The room is cleared; out go the fans and in come 39 people. Up to the stand walks a very tall muscular woman, Mrs. Erlanger, who was once a dancer. She does pretty well until she discloses that she belongs to a show business fraternity. “The State excuses Mrs. Erlanger,” says McWilliams, and Morrison smiles. Fink questions a Mrs. Trussell who says, “I find it better to get along by abiding the law,” and states she has seen Butch Cassidy.
Fink reads a list of the best selling books of the last two-year, as examples that community standards have changed. “I will request the judge to allow the jury to see some of the current plays and films. If Morrison used some slang expressions, some words you as an individual may consider crude, four letter words, you would find the same words physically and verbally are a part of the dissenting scene in this country, would you be shocked?”
She answers, “I’d be shocked.” Ray is rooting for the new prospective juror on the stand, Johnny Weiner, a young mod hairstylist with sideburns and an Edwardian suit. As he’s questioned, Weiner says he frequents The Climax nightclub, and owns Doors albums. Weiner is retained for a while.
Max approaches him. “Would you believe that because, in a rock band, a singer crawls on his hands and knees to fondle another man that he feigning oral copulation?”
“I’d have to see it,” Weiner says. He’s eventually excused.
An elderly lady is dismissed after she says “I’m very fond of young people, and I would not want to injure the young man in any way – there’s a two generation gap.”
Mr. Beidl is questioned concerning his that Morrison’s father is a high-ranking admiral in the Navy.
Mr. Beidl responds firmly, “I have no prejudice against Mr. Morrison or his father.” Mr. Beidl is retained, along with five others and two alternates. They are all sworn in and court is recessed until Monday.
Friday evening, Jim and his crowd go to see Creedence and Clearwater Revival at the Miami Beach Convention Centre. Inside the huge hall, fans flock around Jim wishing him good luck. Forgerty’s band turns in a very average set and Tony ho-hums, “well, now I’ve seen Creedence.”
Next stop is the Marco Polo where Canned Heat is playin the Hump Room. After greeting Morrison at his table with a Bear hug, Bob Hite comes on stage to announce: “There’s a young man in the audience, Mr. Jim Morrison, and I want him to come up here.”
Jim and Canned Heat do four numbers together: “Back Door Man,” “Rock Me Baby,” “Fever,” and “I’m a Man.” Bear is blowing on his harp (“my Mississippi saxophone”) and saying “I hope you are just as loose as I am and if you are, too bad.”
Josefsberg begins today’s session with regard to the subpoenas for motion pictures (Woodstock, Tropic of Cancer, etc.) that he wishes the jury to see, and the legal complications of keeping the films until the judge and State approve their relevance. Judge Goodman says the court isn’t concerned with the contents of Woodstock. And motions to the bailiff to usher in the jury. He later issues an order barring films, plays and books as “irrelevant” to the offenses charged.
Terrence McWilliams reads from the court record the State’s charges. He reads the entire report directly in front of Morrison, who has turned his face up to McWilliams, blinking his eyes, and listening intently as the prosecutor emphasizes such portions as “… the defendant did lewdly and lasciviously expose his penis, place his hand on his penis and shake it, and further the said defendant did simulate the acts of masturbation upon himself and oral copulation upon another…”
McWilliams then quotes, from the record, the language of the performance:
The jury sits quietly, expressing no reaction to the words.
Max Fink makes his speech at noon to the jury: “Your imagination may run rampant, but there’s a small difference between the prosecutors’ evidence and their witnesses. There is no question about the use of words. I’m 62 and I haven’t been to one of these concerts but it is what they say these days. Young people use these words with no thought.

Max quotes the Fish cheer, “Give Me a F*U*C*K”, used at rock festivals. “This is what they say and do. A rock concert is an expression of dissent. Let’s have love, let’s take care of our minorities, let’s have oneness. You will see photographs of the audience making V-signs, you will hear what Mr. Morrison said to his audience of 10,000 people. You will hear the audience yelling ‘Fuck You’ and ‘You’re a fairy’ at him…
“There were 26 officers present in uniform that night, and many officers not in uniform. No one arrested his performance on stage. Now a rock singer works very hard; he leaves the stage swimming in a perspiration to join his friends for a few laughs backstage before heading to the hotel and then to Jamaica. There was no arrest, there was no crime. The words we admit, that’s free speech. The evil is in the mind.”
The first State witness is Colleen Clary, a frail 17-year-old blonde. Her hair is parted in the middle and swept up into a ponytail. Her blue eyes are icy. Colleen was at the Dinner Key concert, sitting in the bleachers where the lights were dim.
She testifies that she saw Morrison expose himself. “I guess it was ten seconds,” she tells McWilliams. “My boyfriend and I were shocked, we couldn’t believe it.”
“How did it affect you?,” asks McWilliams.
“I was shocked; it was disgusting,” answers Colleen, wringing a handkerchief. Fink reads from her sworn statement taken in April of this year, where in Colleen states she saw Morrison rubbing against a girl on stage. But she can’t remember whether his pants were up or down. Max points out that sworn statement was made 13 months and five days after the event.
Max reads again from here April 1970 sworn testimony; Colleen looks peeved.
(Q. “Were you able to actually observe his genital area when he dropped his clothes?” Colleen: “Most of the time he was moving around.”)
Max asks, “Has your memory been affected in the last few months?”
The witness answers, “I don’t know,” turns her face away from the jury and begins to cry. A short recess is called; Morrison rises, taking notes as he looks at Colleen facing the wall.

After the break, Max asks how far down Morrison’s trousers were. Colleen, nervously states they were “above his knees.”
Max read from her previous testimony: Q: “How far down?” A:I could see it was below his knees.”
Colleen corrects the quote, “I motioned that it was above is knees,” “ Then did the reporter [in April] improperly quote you? Did you see Mr. Morrison put his hand inside his trousers?”
“I think so.”
Again Max Fink reads from the sworn testimony which asks if the singer placed his hands inside his clothing at any time other than when he dropped his pants. “I couldn’t see,” was Colleen’s answer in April.
Colleen is excused and the next State witness is Carl Hofstader, her boyfriend, age 20, wearing mod clothes. Carl states they were seated 80-90 feet from the state. Carl says the exposure lasted “five to eight seconds,” but that his vision was partially blocked. Josefsberg asks if he was shocked.
“Not to myself, but to my girlfriend.” State witness number four, an attractive policewoman named Betty Racine, takes the stand the next day. She observed the concert from outside the ladies’ room and from the balcony. On the stand today, she testifies she heard obscenity: “It sounded like, ‘Do you want to see my cock?’” “In her deposition of June 2, 1970, she states that she didn’t remember hearing any profanity.
“Has your memory improved since then?” Fink asks. McWilliams objects as Mrs. Racine then admits she heard a tape of the Dinner Key performance in the last two months (“I heard something… I wasn’t supposed to say…”), and her testimony is stricken. Terrence McWilliams face is as red as his shirt. State witness number five is Jeffrey C. Simon, a self-employed photographer who took about 150 pictures of Morrison in action at Dinner Key. Jeff is a handsome former University of Miami student who stood three to five feet away from the front of the stage and was called to the State Attorney’s office a couple days after the concert last year. From his manner and words on the stand, Jess is obviously on Morrison’s side.
Simon is cross-examined that afternoon by Fink, and states he did not see any genital exposure. Jeff turns and talks directly to the jury in a conversational way. He’s asked to explain the so-called oral copulation shot (Jim on his knees in front of Robbie).
Fink: “The projection down here is the guitar?” Jeff: “Yes.”
Bobby Jennings is the sixth state witness. He is 6’9” with curly red longish hair and a beard, 22 years old, wearing a ribbon dog collar. He works in the State Attorney’s office on the 6th floor of the Justice Building as an office clerk. He attended the concert with a friend, James Wood.
Jennings speaks of the hypnotic “drone effect” of the Doors’ music and quotes extensively from memory the words of the concert. He also testifies that the exposure lasted “five to eight seconds,” just like Carl and other state witnesses to follow. Jennings says his friend didn’t see what was going on stage because “he had his head down and was grooving to the music.”
Bobby Jennings testimony continues, shedding more confusion, and the laugh of the morning. Max Fink asks a question concerning masturbation.
Jennings: “I believe the expression is oral copulation. There’s a difference you know.” The judge raises his eyebrows.
Fink: “Are you an expert on oral copulation?”
Jennings: “I don’t have a master’s degree in it, no.”
Jim and the caravan retire to a small bar in the hotel that night. No other patrons are in the bar. On his second round of scotch. Make it Chivas Regal.”
“She took one look at you, and said Bar Scotch!” hollers Babe. Morrison roars. Gershman makes a toast: “Well folks, you’ve heard of the Chicago seven, now you’ve got the Miami nine!”