Roman Polanski Lawyer Claims Movie Academy Broke Rules In Expelling Director; AMPAS Says No

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He remains a fugitive from American justice over the rape of a minor in the 1970s, but Roman Polanski intends to battle being kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, claims the Oscar winner’s attorney – and he’ll use the organization’s own Standards of Conduct to do so. The movie academy however says he is aiming at the wrong target.

The Academy said Thursday that Polanski and Bill Cosby had been expelled from the organization by AMPAS’ board of governors for misconduct.

“Roman was just mailed the letter which on its face violates Rule 5b of their own rules,” Harland Braun told Deadline today. “We plan to ask the Academy to follow its own rules which is to give Roman 10 days’ notice to present his side.”

The LA-based lawyer also referred to the Oscar organization’s recently adopted Standards of Conduct. “We were prepared but were blindside by their violation of their own standards.”

“We had ready over 300 pages of documents, two documentaries, and Samantha Geimer would have met with them,” Braun said of a seemingly detailed plan to counter the long-anticipated action, which included the victim herself speaking on his behalf as she has done in the past. “What did the 56 members read and observe?” Braun asks of the board, per the rule in the December 2017-approved Standards of Conduct for members.

According to AMPAS, the lawyer may be targeting the wrong set of rules.

While the April 26 statement from the Academy cited the vote to kick out Polanski and Cosby was “in accordance with the organization’s Standards of Conduct,” a spokesperson for AMPAS told Deadline it was actually the group’s bylaws employed in this case. Citing Rule 8 of the Standards of Conduct that allows the bylaws to prevail under the board’s “independent duty and authority,” the Academy asserts it is in no way in violation of its own standards.

“Any member of the Academy may be suspended or expelled for cause by the Board of Governors. Expulsion or suspension as herein provided for shall require the affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds of all the Governors,” says Article 10, Section 3 of AMPAS’ bylaws.

At their core, the AMPAS Standard of Conduct rules themselves are primarily designed to deal with a specific complaint against a member. That was not the case with either Polanski or Cosby here.  Like when Harvey Weinstein was expelled late last year after dozens of damning accusations surfaced of sexual assault and sexual harassment by the producer, there was no individual complaint against the much accused Polanski or Cosby – the Academy clearly decided it was time to get them out and choose this week to make the move.

“The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity,” AMPAS did say in its statement Thursday announcing the May 1 decision to bounce Polanski and Cosby. After two days of deliberation in a retrial and looking at potentially 30 years behind bars, the 80-year old Cosby was found guilty last week by a Pennsylvania jury on three counts of aggravated indecent assault against former Temple University Andrea Constand.

Polanski, who won the Best Director Oscar in 2003 for The Pianist,  has helmed such films as ChinatownRosemary’s Baby and last year’s Based on a True Story. He has been in exile in Europe since he fled the U.S. 40 years ago after being convicted in 1978 of raping then 13-year-old Geimer, and has has evaded various ham-handed attempts in recent years by the U.S. to bring him back.

Over the past year, Braun has been before Los Angeles Superior Court repeatedly to argue unsuccessfully that Polanski himself was victimized by court misconduct and political corruption. The lawyer asserts the director should be free to return to the U.S. without fear of further punishment. In January, the L.A. Country District Attorney’s office decided not to bring charges against Polanski over the alleged rape of a 10-year old in 1975 as the statute of limitations had expired.

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