The Celebrities' Court

As the Municipal Court judge presiding over a district that stretches from north of Santa Monica through Malibu to the Ventura County line, Lawrence J. Mira is geographically entwined with wayward stars. He has dealt with Madonna's and Robert Redford's traffic violations and, in the past year alone, has clacked his gavel at Charlie Sheen, Tommy Lee and Robert Downey Jr. Mira's is a district whose defendants have special needs. Take the trouble-prone Downey: first arrested for possession of drugs and a firearm while drunkenly speeding down Pacific Coast Highway; nabbed again after nodding out in the wrong house and finally given jail time after going AWOL from court-ordered rehab. Still, when he requested repeated work leaves during his 180-day sentence, Mira said OK. Outrage ensued, but the actor snuck in several stints on a movie set.

Mira, 56, can't seem to escape the literal and figurative trials of the rich and famous. The former prosecutor declared "there's a new wind blowing in Malibu" when he was appointed to the bench in 1987. Indeed, before becoming a lawyer, Mira reportedly worked as a singer, record producer and agent. He told the Los Angeles Daily Journal in 1987 that he quit show biz after a particularly chaotic sound-mixing session for a Sonny & Cher single. Said Mira: "I looked around . . . and said, 'Is this the kind of life I want . . . constantly involved in all these personalities, crazy hours, demands and egos?' "

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