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Roman Polanski attorneys may have provoked arrest by complaining L.A. wasn't serious about arresting director

Roman Polanski’s attorneys may have helped provoke his arrest by complaining to an appellate court this summer that Los Angeles prosecutors had never made any real effort to arrest the filmmaker in his three decades as a fugitive, two sources familiar with the case told The Times.

The accusation that the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office was not serious about extraditing Polanski was a small part of two July court filings by the director’s attorneys. But it caught the attention of prosecutors and led to his capture in Switzerland on Saturday, the sources said.

Polanski, 76, was taken into custody at the airport in Zurich, where he was scheduled to headline the city’s film festival. Details of his appearance were widely available on the Internet. Variety also reported his planned attendance in August, the month after Polanski’s attorneys had filed two separate documents with the 2nd District of the state Court of Appeal asking for a dismissal of the 32-year-old child sex case against the filmmaker.

In both, the lawyers alleged that the district attorney’s office in effect benefited from Polanski’s absence, because as long as he remained a fugitive, officials could avoid answering allegations of prosecutorial and judicial wrongdoing in the original handling of the case.

“The district attorney’s office, in the 30 years since Mr. Polanski left the jurisdiction, has not once sought to have him extradited. If it had, there would have been a hearing regarding misconduct in this case,” wrote the attorneys, Chad Hummel, Douglas Dalton and Bart Dalton, in a July 7 filing.

Twenty days later, they filed a second document and raised the issue again in a footnote. “Combined with the fact that no effort has been made to extradite Mr. Polanski, the intent here is clear: invoke a physical absence which they caused and deliberately perpetuate in order to preserve the unconstitutional status quo and never address the misconduct head on,” the lawyers wrote. 

The allegations prompted the district attorney’s office to look for an opportunity to seize Polanski, and his appearance in Switzerland, which has an extradition treaty with the U.S., provided such a chance, said the sources, who spoke to The Times on the condition that they not be named because it was an ongoing investigation.

In bemoaning Polanski’s arrest, his supporters have noted that in recent years the director traveled widely in Europe without fear of arrest and even owned a home in Switzerland.

The arrest has become an international incident, with France and Poland demanding that the famed director be released on bail and questioning why he was taken into custody.

The district attorney's office wants Polanski extradited to face charges that he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told France-Inter radio that he and Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski asked Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that Polanski be released on bail, calling his arrest  a "bit sinister."

French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand was quoted in French media as saying, "In the same way that there is a generous America that we like, there is also a scary America that has just shown its face."

Swiss authorities told the Associated Press that bail has not been ruled out, but the director would have to stay in Switzerland.

Robert Harris, a British novelist who had worked with Polanski, said in a statement that he believed the arrest was "politically motivated." "I am shocked that any man of 76, whether distinguished or not, should have been treated in such a fashion," he said.

-- Harriet Ryan and Richard Winton

Photo: Polanski leaves court on Sept. 19, 1977, after being ordered to undergo a 90-day diagnostic study at a state prison. Credit: Associated Press
Comments () | Archives (120)

He most definitely should be brought back for drugging and raping a 13 year old girl. Who cares what Europeans think about us or our judicial system. There is a reason we have laws in our society and he broke one that most people would find repulsive, of course not in Europe where this kind of thing happens every day and nobody blinks an eye over it.

Also, the French Government have asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to step in and stop the process. She better not do anything to stop the justice system and any Hollywood actors or studio executives who support Polanski especially Debra Winger who read a statement about this case should be dropped

What do we know of this 13 year old girl? She was given an undisclosed amount of money and she just about begs for no prosecution and says she forgives him over and over - makes you wonder doesn't it? Maybe it wasn't rape afterall? I would feel guilty if I put someone in prison who did not really wrong me and I got millions in hush funds. Possible.

For sure this arrest will not add to the popularity of the US in Europe. We haven't forgotten that it was the American greedy bankiers who almost ruined the world. Now you are trying to make the news with a case nobody really cares about, including the victim. Polanski certainly made a mistake but he punished himself not being able to enter US for such long time.

Roman ought to sue his waaahbulance chasers for malpractice. They didn't have to say anything but probably thought it was a good way to dial in some more billable hours. Nice to see that the likely result of their ill-timed argument was blow-back on the client.

Polanski's arrest going to the Swiss film awards was more "ironic" than sinister

Sound like Robert Harris is in support of allowing a known rapist to resume his lifestyle as if nothing happen.

Burn in hell the two of you.

Peter McDonald
Los Angeles

a (then) 44 year old man having sex with a thirteen year old girl. He belongs in prison, even though he has bought off the witness. Go get 'em Cooley!

"Here's a story about a sex offender who admittedly had sex with a 13 year old girl, and the comments section starts with:
"If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate."

Now, THAT's ironic."

it's not ironic it's just coincidental.

The arrest of Polanski is just hurting America's already damaged reputation around the world and its way too late for justice to be done in this case. We've gotta' let some things go. Its ludicrous to think we have endless resources to make everything right. Sometimes when we try to fix things we break them even further. This is one of those cases. I don't care about Polanski, I care about American's bizarre, perhaps arrogant, belief that we can or should try to fix everything, as if we had unlimited resources. We DO NOT.

The shock, the outrage! Someone I'VE HEARD OF ARRESTED! We must start a defense fund immediately! OJ, Chris B, Phil Specter, Baretta? Anyone... can you spare a Robert Shapiro?

Maybe a "We are the world" thing, if only John Phillips were still around, a duet with Mackenzie seems àpropo..

Where have all the flowers gone?

Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?

When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Funny how Poland recently approved chemical castration upon the release of pedophiles from prison while at the very same time defending the very arrest of Polanski who has been convicted, although in the united states, of a very similar crime.

I wonder if Hilary Clinton -- who has pledged to make her State Department tenure about protecting girls and women -- was more willing than her predecessors to use use diplomatic channels to ask Switzerland for extradition. If so, bravo. Child rape isn't okay, not even for famous people.

People, this isn't about Polanski, it's about a crooked judge that ruined countless people's lives because of his ego.

If Polanski was to be treated like everyone else (as people say here) then he should have gotten probation like everyone else did in in 1978. Instead, this judge threw himself a press conference (totally unprecedented) to brag about how was sending Polanski to jail "for life."

That LA is creating an international incident over this long-gone judicial error is an huge embarrassment and a total waste of our tax dollars.

I guess in france, if you are an "artist" you are allowed to rape and sodomize children.

Why do you keep incorrectly saying the D.A. wants Polanski to face charges of sexual assault? He already pleaded guilty in the case and only faces sentencing.

Anyone who has a daughter that was raped at such a young age would want the rapist brought to justice no matter how long it takes.

Ya gott'a love lawyers aka da mouth piece, of course they are trying to defend a sleeze ball child rapist. Ya gott'a be careful of what you ask for you just might get it...

Does no one here read the facts of the case before demanding vengeance?

The facts, the victim, the prosecutor, the shrinks, the corrections board and everyone involved wanted probation. Everyone but a single judge who was found to be guilty of serious impropriety with this case.

If we don't have the money for basic justice today, why are we pursuing what should've been a probation sentence from 1977???

America is such a bastion of hippocrites. Half of the moralists here calling for his head have probably engaged in similar or worse behavior in some sphere in their life.

Having said that Polanski needs to face the music, and the district attorney needs to impose on him a token sentence, like a six month prison sentence.

Heavy handed justice here will not go unnoticed or unreciprocated.

Gosh if he had only done the man thing and made it legal in Burkina Faso, or waited a year until she was 14 and got hooked up in Lithuania or Lichtenstein.

Naw, he's a ferris wheel type of groper who thinks nothing of flashing his passport at the airport instead of driving.

Too bad he allowed his mouthpieces to use the "yahh yahh you can't catch me" defense.

He'd still be cruising for his next conquest.

The mom pimped her own 13 old daughter for her own sick selfish Hollywood interests. Every name some of you attach to Polanski also applies to the mother of the 13 year old girl.

Well, it seems like Polanski's lawyers served him as well as Michael Jackson's doctors. He can't buy his way out of everything.
Salon had a very blunt post, that is off the front page now. I write about it, with links, here--


I'm not surprised after all that guy was one of the most ruthless individuals in the world. He made the joker seem like an angel..

You say batman I saw Vawncast

This is probably true. The defense lawyers probably thought they were making a great argument and never thought about the practical consequences of their argument. I can easily see the prosecutors viewing the defense argument as a challenge. You wave a red flag in front of the bull, you're going to get the horns. Another example of attorneys being more clever than smart.

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