Roman Polanski wants 1977 rape case over, attorney tells LA judge

Carla Harmon
March 21, 2017

The case of French-Polish Polanski has been a cause celebre for 40 years.

Prosecutors disagree, arguing that the case should not be resolved unless Polanski appears in a United States courtroom personally.

But concern about lifting the warrant sounded like an issue that would figure in talks of a sort that were already under way last November, when Braun and Hanisee huddled with Gordon in chambers, as described in a letter Braun sent to Gordon on February 2.

Taken on a provisional basis when it appeared that Gunson's life might be in danger from illness, it touches on a supposedly broken promise by the late judge Laurence Rittenband to limit Polanski's sentence for a 1977 statutory rape conviction to time he served during a prison psychiatric evaluation. Gordon, however, noted that the 1977 plea agreement did not contain a promise of a particular sentence. The Supreme Court of Poland upheld the decision in December, after it was challenged by the country's national justice ministry. Prosecutors argue Polanski, who fled on the eve of sentencing in 1978, must return to a Los Angeles courtroom for the case to be resolved.

The L.A. County District Attorney's office has repeatedly attempted to extradite Polanski without success. France prohibits extradition of its citizens. Both Poland and France have rejected bids by USA authorities to extradite Polanski, and he spent more than 300 days in jail and on house arrest during the Swiss proceedings. Braun has said the testimony could assist in resolving the case.

The lawyer told the court the victim in the case said she wants "this thing over with". Polanski alleged judicial misconduct in the case and claimed he already spent enough time behind bars. Polanski has been in the process of trying to prevent more time in custody since February. "I am only interested in obtaining the Gunson transcript and obtaining a ruling on whether a California court will respect the ruling of the Polish Court", he wrote in a February 21 email, which referred both to the testimony and to a determination in a Polish extradition hearing that Polanski should remain free.

The district attorney's office has maintained that Polanski must first submit to US jurisdiction before the case can be resolved.

Gordon is the latest in a series of judges to hear motions in the case against Polanski. The affront to justice is suffered most by the people who are unable to litigate any issue to a final conclusion while the defendant remains a fugitive and can simply decline to return should the court rule in a manner the defendant finds unfavorable.

"The defendant has many options before him if he returns" to Los Angeles, Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee wrote earlier this month. "He is bound by rulings made by at least three prior judges".

Polanski won the Oscar for best director for 2002 film The Pianist and earned nominations for 1974′s Chinatown, starring Nicholson, and 1979 film Tess. His attorneys say that he has been forced to turn down work outside of France due to the outstanding warrant for his arrest.

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