Roman Polanski wants sex charge dismissed
Filmmaker claims judicial, prosecutorial misconductRoman Polanski on Tuesday filed papers with the Los Angeles Superior Court asking that his notorious decades-old sex case against him, in which he pleaded guilty to unlawful intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, be dismissed.
Attorneys for the Oscar-winning fillmmaker claim judicial and prosecutorial misconduct and cite the recent HBO documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" as revealing a pattern of misconduct between the court and the District Attorney's Office throughout the case.
They list a slew of reasons for the case to be dismissed, including that the victim, Samantha Geimer, has made "numerous" and repeated requests that the case be dismissed and that Mr. Polanski serve no further term of incarceration, a request that must be considered."
Polanski's Los Angeles attorneys Chad Hummel and Bart Dalton said those communications were in violation of the rule of law and were made without the knowledge of their client or his attorney. Dalton is the son of Douglas Dalton, Polanski's attorney in the original case.
"This case serves as a classic example of how our justice system can be abused and defendants' rights trampled, by an unholy alliance between courts and criminal prosecutors," the attorneys said in a statement.
The court declined comment on the case itself, since it is still pending, but said its position for several years has been "if Mr. Polanski wants to resolve this matter, he must appear in person. Should he do so, he would be taken to Dept. 100 for sentencing -- which is where this all left off. At that point, his attorneys would be free to pursue whatever legal strategy they choose."
The DA's spokeswoman, Sandi Gibbons, said her office had not been served with the motion and only heard about it through media reports. She said the office could not take a position until they see dismissal papers.
"We're looking forward to seeing Mr. Polanski in Los Angeles to litigate it," she said.
A hearing on the motion is set for Jan. 21.
The Poland-born Polanski was originally indicted on six felony counts and faced up to life in prison. Instead, he pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sex with a minor and fled the U.S. in 1978 to avoid serving what his lawyers claim would be a second term of imprisonment for the offense. Polanski had already served time in a California prison, they said.
In the filing, Polanski's lawyers claim "extraordinary new evidence" has surfaced in the doc revealing that the prosectuor at the time, David Wells, had "repeated unethical and unlawful" communications with the judge at the time, the late Lawrence Rittenband, without Polanski's attorneys present, in which the disposition of the case was discussed.
"As a result of these improper conversations, Judge Rittenband was illegally influenced by Wells and became unduly cocerned about his public reputation regarding his conduct in this case," the filing states. "Driven by personal preoccupations and motivations, Judge Rittenband intentionally violated Mr. Polanski's plea agreement, imposed an illegal sentence upon him and threatened him with a second term of imprisonment and compelled deportation -- all in clear violaion of state and federal law and over the objectsion of both the defense and the prosecution."
A warrant issued at that time is still in effect. Now a French citizen, the filmmaker has avoided traveling to Britain as well, for fear of extradiction.
The doc by Marina Zenovich, which played Sundance and Cannes, follows the case against Polanski, including a 1997 meeting between the court, Polanski's attorneys and the DA that would have paved the way for the director to return to the U.S.
According to the doc, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler, who was the new judge in the case, insisted that the hearing, which would have ended the 30-year-old case, be televised. Polanski, fearing a media circus, did not return. After HBO aired the doc earlier this year, court officials called the assertion a complete fabrication and insisted HBO change the wording. It now indicates the court only insisted the hearing be held in open court.
Polanski won a best director Oscar in 2002 for the Holocaust drama "The Pianist."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.