Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Roman Polanski's lawyers open new front against L.A. County D.A.
More than three decades after Roman Polanski fled Los Angeles for France to avoid sentencing in the sexual assault of a teenager, his attorneys have opened a new front in the legal saga aimed at having all charges against the Oscar winning director dismissed.
Polanski's legal team, which now includes celebrity attorney Alan M. Dershowitz, is making
accusations of prosecutorial misconduct in its effort to end the case, which has kept the director
out of the United States as well as many countries with U.S. extradition treaties since he fled in
In court papers filed Monday in Los Angeles, Polanski's attorneys allege that district attorneys and
judges carried out "serious misconduct" in an effort to prosecute, and later force the return of, the
The 133 page motion seeks an evidentiary hearing to determine whether "pervasive" misconduct
and a "false" extradition request sent Oct. 28, 2014, by the Department of Justice to the Polish
government requires dismissal of the case against Polanski.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office was not available for comment
The motion revives a sensational case that began in 1977, when Polanski was charged with raping
and sodomizing a 13 year old girl during a photo shoot. In a plea deal, the Polish born director
pleaded guilty to one count of statutory rape, but he was never formally sentenced.
He spent a month and a half in state prison for psychological testing, but the night before his
sentencing he fled to Europe after learning from his attorney that the judge planned to give him
additional time in prison.
Monday's motion centers on an attempt in October to arrest Polanski while he was attending the
Museum of the History of the Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland.
Polanski's attorneys say the extradition request omits that he served court ordered prison time
because prosecutors were trying to align the case history to meet the criteria of an extradition
treaty between the United States and Poland.
The prison time has proved controversial because the order purportedly took place in 1977 in an
off the record meeting with the prosecutor and defense attorney. At the time, Judge Laurence J.
Rittenband ordered Polanski to undergo the psychiatric study at the state prison in Chino. The
prosecutor and Polanski's attorney understood that this time in the prison would serve as
Polanski's punishment, Monday's filing said.
Polanski reported to Chino and was released after 42 days.
But Rittenband then told the attorneys in private that he wanted Polanski to finish the 90 days —
and then leave the country. If he didn't leave, he'd get even more prison time.
His attorney, Douglas Dalton, alleged misconduct by the judge.
He argued that Rittenband improperly used the psychiatric study to incarcerate Polanski, that he
had no authority to compel his deportation and that he was letting media coverage and public
outcry influence his decisions.
The murky sentencing, among other factors, prompted the Swiss government in 2009 to refuse to
extradite the director when he visited the country to accept a lifetime achievement award at a film
The hearing sought Monday by Polanski's attorneys would offer "full, public disclosure of the true
facts and circumstances surrounding the 1977 and 1978 proceedings," his attorneys argued.
Polanski's attorneys also alleged that in 2008 and 2009, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge
Peter Espinoza heeded the "marching orders" of Judge David Wesley when he applied the fugitive
disentitlement doctrine, which bars those who dodge the system from finding relief in it later.
A sworn statement from a former court spokesman, along with copies of emails, allege that
Espinoza sought to bring Polanski back to the U.S. with a promise to sentence him for time served,
the documents claim.
email@example.com Twitter: @MattHjourno Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times