Malibu Courthouse history a record of celebrity misdeeds

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Malibu Courthouse

Slated to close in less than two weeks, the Malibu Courthouse has seen its fair share of high-profile defendants in its 23-year history. With offenses ranging from the mundane to the controversial, run-ins with the law have resulted in such high-profile defendants as Robert Downey Jr., Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen appearing in the local halls of justice.

Robert Downey Jr.

Before a successful life and career rehabilitation that would see him become a titan on the big screen as Iron Man, Downey was somewhat of a regular at the Malibu Courthouse.

Mired in a drug and alcohol addiction many feared would end up costing him his life, Downey was arrested several times in Los Angeles County between 1996 and 2001.

In 1996, Downey was placed on probation after police caught him speeding on Sunset Boulevard and in possession of drugs and an unloaded handgun. A month later, he was arrested again on drug charg- es after reportedly wandering into a Malibu home and passing out in the bed that was not his. He was sentenced at the Malibu Courthouse to six months in prison.

“I’m going to incarcerate you, and I’m going to incarcerate you in a way that’s very unpleasant for you,” Judge Lawrence Mira told Downey at a 1997 hearing. “I don’t care who you are. What I care about is that there is a life to be saved from drugs.”

Still, the short stint in prison did little to help Downey’s legal troubles. In 1999 he stood once again in Judge Mira’s courthouse. After repeatedly violating probation and failing to stay committed to a drug treatment program, Mira sentenced an emotional Downey to three years in state prison.

He begged to be sent to a rehab program, but Mira was unwilling to honor the request. “Is there any question that if this defendant continues to use drugs we’re going to be reading his name in an obituary?” Mira said. “We tried rehabilitation and it simply hasn’t worked.”

Downey continued having run-ins with the law through 2001. But by 2004, he had engineered a personal and professional comeback that read like a Hollywood ending. He went on to star in films such as “Good Night and Good Luck,” “Zodiac” and perhaps most famously, the “Iron Man” trilogy and “The Avengers.”

Mel Gibson

Malibu became the center ofinternational media attention when actor/filmmaker Mel Gibson was arrested for drunken driving on Pacific Coast Highway near Serra Retreat in the early hours of July 28, 2006.

Gibson eventually pleaded no contest at the Malibu Courthouse to misdemeanor drunken driving and was sentenced to three years probation. Judge Mira ordered Gibson to enroll in an alcohol abuse program for three months, fined him $1,300 and his license was restricted for 90 days by the DMV. Gibson also agreed to do a public service announcement on the hazardsof drinking and driving.

According to a Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station report, which was not released to the public but later placed on a tabloid website, Gibson made anti-Semitic remarks during the arrest and attempted to urinate on the floor of his jail cell. He also told the deputy he “owned Malibu,” according to the report.

Gibson later released a statement apologizing to “everyone in the Jewish community,” and stated he was interested in meeting with Jewish leaders.

He has not had any brushes with the law since the arrest.

Nick Nolte

Arrested in September 2002 for driving under the influence and weaving his Mercedes into oncoming PCH traffic, actor and Malibu resident Nick Nolte eventually pleaded no contest at the Malibu Courthouse to charges that he was under the influence of GHB, a daterape drug, when he was pulled over.

At a December 2002 hearing, Judge Mira also fined the actor $500.

Tommy Lee

After violating terms of his probation when he allegedly kicked his then-wife Pamela Anderson in 1999 as she held the couple’s son, Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee added his name to the list of celebrities Judge Mira dealt with at the Malibu Courthouse.

The rocker pleaded no contest to one felony count of corporal injury to spouse and Judge Mira sentenced Lee to six months in prison over the incident, though he ended up serving four months behind bars.

Gary Busey

Actor Gary Busey was arrested in 1995 on drug charges stemming from a night when the film star, who once portrayed Buddy Holly, allegedly overdosed on cocaine.

In 1996, Judge Mira dropped the charges after Busey apologized for his actions. Mira said he had been “moved” by Busey’s comments. Busey was also released from an outpatient drug rehab program.

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen, whose father Martin Sheen and brother Emilio Estevez also reside in Malibu, had his turn at the local courthouse in 1996 and 1997 over charges of domestic violence. In June 1996, Sheen pleaded no contest to charges that he beat his girlfriend in December 1996. Mira sentenced him to two years probation, counseling, a $2,800 fine and 300 hours of community service.

Sheen’s father turned the actor in the next year, telling authorities his son was doing drugs, in violation of the terms of his probation. Mira extended Sheen’s probation by two years.