EXCLUSIVE: “He forfeited his right to make requests of the court when he fled,” said the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office yesterday of Roman Polanski’s latest attempt to ensure no jail time for the rape of a 13-year old girl in 1977. “The People oppose the defendant’s request for this court to represent what the defendant would be sentenced to if he returned,” D.A. Jackie Lacey’s office added.
Taking direct aim at the Oscar winning director, the March 16 filing in LA Superior Court comes just days before a downtown hearing in front of a judge on Polanski’s desire to eventually return to the United States almost 40 years after he fled American justice.
Polanski’s lawyer wasted no time today in responding with a filing of his own scheduled to be placed before the court this afternoon. “Mr. Polanski is only asking the Court to pledge it will obey the law,” says the soon to be filed paperwork from the Braun & Braun attorney.
“Defendant ROMAN R. POLANSKI, through his attorney HARLAND W. BRAUN, hereby replies to the government’s Opposition to Roman Polanski’s request that the Court assure him it will keep its promise and enforce California sentencing law,” the response says. “And, as an alternative, Mr. Polanski asks to be sentenced in absentia.”
In a way it is almost a legal version of the musical trait of call and response between the two sides in a case that has seen repeated attempts to extradite Polanski from Europe over the decades.
“The defendant is, once again, trying to dictate the terms of his return without risk to himself,” asserted Deputy D.A. Michele Hanisee on Thursday of this most recent move by the Chinatown helmer in what the opposition filing calls “the bizarre procedural history of the long festering case (read it here). “His proposed order indicating that this court can reinstate the bench warrant after 180 days if he does not appear, is proof that his return is conditioned on getting the answers he wants. Defendant wants answers – but will only show up if he likes the answers.”
A hearing is scheduled for March 20 in front of LASC Judge Scott Gordon.
All of this comes out of the Rosemary’s Baby director skedaddling out of LAX 39-years ago after hearing that a judicial promise was about to be reneged on and he was facing big jail time.
The deal in question would have meant that Polanski would only spend 90 days in a psychiatric evaluation lock-up for admitting his sexual misconduct. Having already been convicted on five charges stemming from having sex with then-13-year-old Samantha Gailey on March 10, 1977, Polanski was informed that Judge Laurence Rittenband had changed his mind and now wanted to put the director behind bars for up to 50 years.
In the past few weeks the most current moves in the nearly 40-year case started with the February 16 request by Polanski’s side to unseal an ex-deputy prosecutor’s 2010 testimony. Roger Gunson’s testimony is rumored to contain information on that initial agreement and Rittenband’s shift on the matter after Polanski had already spent over 40 days in a facility. After the office of L.A. County D.A. Jackie Lacey rejected opening the sealed material at the beginning of this month, Polanski’s lawyer, “abandoned” that effort.
Now, Polanski’s lawyer Braun’s argument for his client is partially that U.S. courts should give credence to information in a December 2016 decision by Poland’s Supreme Court to uphold a previous ruling by a lower court there that rejected a 2015 extradition request by the U.S.
Besides the Polish courts rulings, the last 10 years has also seen a prolonged and botched 2009 case to extradite Polanski to face American justice, back when Steve Cooley was still L.A. County D.A. In 2014, Alan Dershowitz unsuccessfully attempted to have the Polanski case dropped for the director.
Now, we’ll see how it all goes down on Monday – and if Roman Polanski is coming back to America.