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Earlier this year, Roman Polanski brought a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court condemning the decision by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to kick him out of its ranks. Now, he’s making a particularly unusual demand that his case be assigned to some judge — any judge — so long as the judge comes from outside Los Angeles. Simply put, after decades fighting in absentia, Polanski doesn’t trust the locals.
In the 1970s, the Rosemary’s Baby director fled the country after being convicted of sexually assaulting a teen girl. Polanski claims he left because the judge who was handling his case decades ago promised him he would only serve 90 days of psychiatric evaluation, but instead was going to sentence him to 50 years in prison.
Back in April of this year, Polanski popped up in L.A. Superior Court once again — at least from a distance — when the Film Academy became inspired by the #MeToo movement and decided that the time was right to expel both him and Bill Cosby. A petition for writ of administrative mandamus alleges the filmmaker didn’t get a fair opportunity to be heard and demands he be reinstated as a member in good standing to the group that runs the Oscars. The Academy responds he did indeed get a fair shake while rejecting his attempt to go to a court as a fugitive.
Polanski has now decided it’s not just one system he’s fighting — it’s two.
“Mr. Polanski has no reason to believe that the Honorable Mary H. Strobel is personally biased, but believes the history of the Polanski litigation means that any judgment of this Court would raise an issue of impartiality,” states his latest motion requesting that the L.A. Superior Court disqualify itself from hearing his case.
“Mr. Polanski recognizes the extraordinary nature of his suggestion, but hopes the Court understands the documented history of his dispute with the Court justifies this request,” continues court papers.
Then, over 245 pages, Polanski moves from detailing how his wife was murdered at the hands of Charles Manson to recounting the various “dishonest” judges who have refused to sentence him in absentia to the modest sentence he feels appropriate (and considers already served), plus the judicial proceedings in Switzerland and Poland tasked with handling extradition requests by the U.S. government. He also attacks the State Department for allegedly representing to Interpol that he owes 36 months of custody time when two years, he believes, is the maximum.
Polanski also gets in a plug for his upcoming film, J’Accuse, about Captain Alfred Dreyfus, the real-life French-Jewish soldier wrongly accused of spying for the Germans in the 1890s.
“There are both similarities and dissimilarities between Mr. Dreyfus and Mr. Polanski,” the court papers posit. “Bluntly, Dreyfus was innocent, and Mr. Polanski is admittedly guilty. But in both cases the authorities made serious mistakes, but adamantly ‘protected’ the system by refusing to acknowledge or correct the mistakes. France is no different than Los Angeles in that respect. In both Los Angeles and France there were anti-Semitic overtones to public opinion. In Los Angeles the judiciary helplessly caved to public opinion.”
Polanski takes a brighter view of Poland, where he says the judiciary risked careers by courageously standing up to a Fascist government’s explicit use of an anti-Semitic attack on him.
The director even includes a picture of the Polish judge (see below) he admires with a caption — as if that’s going to convince the L.A. Superior Court about its own incapacity for justice.
“The real enemy of the truth is not the lie, but the half-truth,” states Polanski’s court diatribe. “Because the only basis for the [Academy] Board’s decision was popular opinion, the Board would have benefited from a full and timely consideration of all the uncontested facts. A decision favorable to Mr. Polanski would have required courage in the present climate… .”
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