EXCLUSIVE: Roman Polanski might not find out for several weeks what the next step is in his efforts to return to the U.S. nearly 40 years after fleeing American justice for the rape of a 13-year-old girl. But today his lawyer certainly wants to rev up the process and put the system on notice.
“Court expressed disbelief of why Roman Polanski would hesitate to trust the Court to sentence him after what the Court called an ‘open plea,’ ” reads a second supplemental argument Polanski attorney Harland Braun intends to file today in Los Angeles Superior Court. “After four decades of litigation in three countries this Court hints for the first time that it was not bound by the promises it made to Mr. Polanski in 1978.”
The exhibit-heavy filing claims that the now-83-year-old Chinatown director was originally assured only 90 days behind bars in the late 1970s after he pleaded guilty on five charges stemming from having sex with then-minor Samantha Gailey on March 10, 1977. “Mr. Polanski has long acknowledged his moral and legal responsibility for his conduct and believes it is time for this Court to acknowledge and accept its responsibility.”
The second supplemental argument filing comes week to the day after Braun faced off against the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office in Judge Scott Gordon’s downtown courtroom. The matter remains under consideration.
L.A. D.A. Jackie Lacey’s office did not respond to request for comment on the filing Braun says will be made later today. According to sources, the D.A.’s office has seen the intended filing.
“If the Court believes it not bound by its 1978 promise, it should publicly say so,” Braun asserts in this new, brazen twist to get his self-exiled, France-based client back stateside or sentenced in absentia. “And if the Court does not plan to follow California law which gives Mr. Polanski credit for his custody and house arrest time in Switzerland, it should also say so.”
It continues: “Roman Polanski believes that it is important for the Court to understand why he hesitates to trust this Court and the D.A., without some public indication whether the Court intends to follow its own promise and give him custody credit as mandated by California law.”
New in its more aggressive tone but not in material, the filing lists the usual litany of how the Oscar winner has seen promises and supposed admissions by the D.A.’s office, judges and even officials of the court as ex-prosecutors wither away and documents sealed or rejected, as many of the attached exhibits attached have been.
Among the exhibits attached to the new filing is a 2014 sworn declaration from ex-LA Superior Court Public Information Officer Allan Parachini detailing behind-the-scenes machinations during the failed attempt in 2009 and 2010 to extradite Polanski from Switzerland to the U.S. when the politically ambitious Steve Cooley was Los Angeles County D.A.
Trying to put the court’s reputation a bit more to this fire, the three-year-old declaration by the former PIO, as today’s filing summarizes, “describes the conduct of this Court in attempting to influence public opinion, demanding a change in documentary film, and misleading the public concerning its handling of this case.”
In trying to introduce material previously rejected by the court, Braun’s new move certainly makes it clear any whispered deal with D.A.’s office is off the table.
According to Parachini’s 2014 declaration, besides a possible agreement in 2009 that would have seen Polanski given no further formal jail time after he was made to “cool his heels” behind bars awaiting sentencing, there was a deal in 1997 that could have seen The Pianist helmer escape anything near the 50 years a judge in the ’70s wanted to hit him with.
However, Polanski would only agree to return to L.A. back then if the courtroom was closed to the public and media — a demand rejected by the D.A. In fact, similar language of “he forfeited his right to make requests of the court when he fled,” has come from the likes of now-Deputy D.A. Michele Hanisee and the office in general earlier this month in this new round of will-he-or-won’t-he return?
After the rape of Gailey in 1977 and Polanski’s guilty plea, the director spent 42 days in the California Institute for Men and was released, with the planned deal at that time to include time served and probation — essentially a get-out-of-jail card.
All that changed in 1978 when, after being told that then-presiding Judge Laurence Rittenband had tossed the plea deal and sought to put Polanski in jail for up to 50 years, the director scurried to LAX and skipped the country for Europe just before sentencing was to take place. Polanski’s victim has said in recent years she believes the director’s exile has been punishment enough; she and Polanski came to a financial settlement of around $500,000 in the mid-1990s.
Besides the unsuccessful 2015 and 2016 attempts to extradite Polanski from Poland, the last decade also saw a prolonged and botched case to drag the director back via Switzerland, an effort that did seen the defendant spend more than 300 days under house arrest in his Swiss home. In 2014, Alan Dershowitz unsuccessfully attempted to have the Polanski case dropped.