It could be a reversal of fortune for the Oscar winning director if Alan Dershowitz has his way. The lawyer that helped overturn Claus von Bulow’s murder conviction in the 1980s is seeking to close the book on the statutory rape conviction against Roman Polanski from the late 1970s.
The director “has taken responsibility for his actions, served his sentence, and a remedy should now be fashioned by the court once and for all,” says a filing in LA Superior Court on Monday. As a part of this recent action, the Harvard teaching and hence Massachusetts-based Dershowitz is asking to be allowed to rep Polanski in front of the courts here in California. The New York Times first reported the filing.
Seeking an evidentiary hearing on whether the latest extradition attempt against Polanski this October contained false information, Dershowitz and Polanski’s other lawyers may not find the road to ending this four decades-long controversial case so straightforward. “The politics and the personalities in the Polanski case are still highly charged,” one prominent LA lawyer told me today. “In a time of the accusations we hear against (Bill) Cosby and others like Woody Allen, I think it will be difficult for Polanski’s attorneys to convince the courts to basically self investigate. Remember, this a case of someone who is seen by many as a fugitive from American justice.” The LA County District Attorney’s Office said they had no comment on the filing or the matter of the Venus In Furs director at this time.
Convicted on five charges stemming from having sex with 13-year old Samantha Gailey on March 10, 1977, the then 43-year old director made a plea deal that saw him pleading guilty to having unlawful sex intercourse with a minor. However, after feeling the judge in the case had moved the legal goal posts on him, Polanski fled America and the near certainty of a prison stretch in 1978. He has fought extradition from Europe repeatedly since, most recently in a prolonged case in 2009 and 2010 back when Steve Cooley was still LA County DA.
Sure to set off a firestorm, the 133-page motion this week not only opens old claims that the 1978 case was riddled with violations of the Chinatown and Pianist director’s rights, but raises more recent questions over the ultimately unsuccessful 2009 attempt to bring Polanski back to the U.S. With previously revealed information from a former PIO of the LA Superior Court as back-up, Monday’s filing alleges that then overseeing Judge Peter Espinoza prejudiced the case by nursing the notion of having Polanski “cool his heels in jail” for a while if he did come back Stateside, among other acts.
With the motion Monday, the matter of Roman Polanski and his slippery legal saga is once again before a U.S. judge. American justice, your move.