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Bail for Roman Polanski met with surprise from some legal experts

Roman Polanski is expected to spend the holidays under electronic monitoring at his posh Alpine chalet after a Swiss court agreed to a $4.5-million bail request by the famed director.

Legal experts said the bail is likely to lengthen what is expected to be a fierce battle over whether Polanski should be extradited to Los Angeles to face sentencing for unlawful intercourse with a 13-year-old girl more than three decades ago.

The decision also raises other questions, given that Polanski fled from the U.S. just before his sentencing in 1978. Swiss justice officials have repeatedly denied his bail requests, saying he’s a flight risk.

Under the terms of the bail, Polanski would be restricted to a chalet he owns in Gstaad, a ski resort in the foothills of Mt. Blanc. The town has long been known as a celebrity hangout, with David Niven, Richard Burton and Roger Moore among its frequent visitors in the past.

Dmitry Gorin, a former prosecutor who has represented people overseas facing charges in Los Angeles, said he was surprised the court would grant bail given Polanski's record of fleeing justice.

Others agreed.

“It is very rare to get bail in an extradition case and especially in cases where the person’s fled,” said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor and Loyola law professor. “This is a little like giving bail to O.J. [Simpson] after the Bronco chase.”

Levenson said she believes the bail could prolong the extradition process, because Polanski would have less of an incentive to resolve the issue if he is out of jail.

“This will dramatically slow down the extradition process,” she said. "A Swiss chalet is a lot nicer than a jail here.”

Details about why the court decided to grant bail remain unclear. The Ministry of Justice had argued that Polanski should remain behind bars until extradition is resolved. Switzerland’s justice minister told the Swiss national TV that it was not going to appeal the court ruling.

-- Richard Winton

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Comments () | Archives (41)

Pinching Polanski at a high-profile international film festival was just an attention-getting move by DA Cooley who hopes to run for Governor or some higher office - just like he's grandstanding on the medical marijuana issue, setting himself up as some rightwing law-and-order guy against the prevailing winds and court rulings of California, which allow for non-profit sales and were never meant to be so onerous as to limit medical pot to patients who grow it themselves and exchange it in tiny amounts, with no money ever changing hands.

Polanski did something reprehensible and illegal 30 years ago, he did NOT pay enough of a price (I don't agree with those who say he did), but there's evidence he would have gotten MORE time than an average person at the time in order to make an example of him so he fled. It's now 30 years later and he's no harm to anyone - no one has legitimately argued he is.

While there are thousands of rapists out on the streets of L A county TODAY, thousands of rape and attack victims who have not received justice - until Human Rights Watch came down hard on the County (DA Cooley and Sheriff Lee Baca) thousands of rape kits were untested, criminals loose, even though the victims cried for justice - unlike Polanski's victim, whose life is being ruined all over again by this hoopla.

But testing rape kits and the quiet, unsung work of going after petty rapists and attackers and thugs is NOT "glamorous" or name--making, even though it contributes to making L A safe, NOT nabbing some famous old guy in Switzerland.

That is a no brainer.....4.5 million might be petty cash for the raper but still a fortune. Money talks.

This is all for naught: Polanski's case is going to be tossed as soon as he gets here. Before anyone gets shrill about the crime, know that the justice system failed *everyone* in this incident.

When a defendant is given a plea deal, it's the system's responsibility to stick to it. When they don't, the perp could easily be set free on legal grounds. Sadly, that's what happened here as the judge erred, grossly. Between that undeniable fact and the victim's unwillingness to cooperate anymore (the clear result of re-victimization by the DA and court), there is no reason to go through all this given the inevitable outcome.

Ultimately, this is all just a black eye for US justice.


The only thing that is surprising here is that it took so long. I expect the francs(beyond what was needed for bail) have been just sitting around waiting for the go-ahead. After all, this is Switzerland.

DA Cooley and his entourage of jerks are only part of the failure, still underway after 30 years. The black eye on the US Justice system was self-administered by that despicable judge and now again by this arrogant political pit bully with a tin badge. Considering there are numerable rape cases, vicious rapists, violent serial rapists. child abductors, abusers, and killers loose in Los Angeles, it would be nice for Mr. Coley et al to refocus their obligation to us, the ones they swore to protect. They need to get their high horse off the grandstand and get with the CURRENT crisis. Still kicking a 30 year old dead horse that they themselves killed says it all.

Swiss judges have their bribe min also, he finally met it....or found one who needed some ready cash (girls)

Sentencing after a plea deal is not a sure thing: the judge retains discretion to adjust the suggested sentence up or down. There won't be a re-trial in LA, because RP pleaded guilty. If he ever gets back here (not likely now), a new judge will just pass sentence on the old guilty plea. He could be charged with a new crime, however: fleeing justice (a felony).

First the LA Judge reniged on the plea deal for Polansky after Polansky had served his time in prison. Second, the victim took an undisclosed sum of a money and settled with Polansky in the 1980's.
With LAPD and the DA not doing DNA prossesing on thousands of rape kits, this is where they choose to send their time, money and efforts?

I'm amazed by the comments. The DA is doing his best for us all. "Kicking a dead horse" attitude about a felon who ran is mind boggling.

People with a beef towards the DA's office had better hope they never become a victim of crime!

do we even need witchhunt stuff like this? i cant believe I read crap like this, the person he was accused of settled and tried to get money and is over the situation first of all. secondly this is not like oj running away in the bronco this is like trapping oj 50 years later after the goldman family forgives oj for running away in the bronco. the fact that thier needs to be a time limititions on legaly being able to prosecute someone do to the degradation of evidence over time as well as the effects of time on peoples memory (esp when were talking about the time involved in this case) it means no credible case can be established. were down to salem witchcraft trails. goverment law needs to be about rebuilding society and strengthening society not screwing people over for revenge motifs and given the time involved this reeks of revenge and publicity profiteering.
I remember a similar situation with koby braint (right last name?) the basketball star where everyone in the press ranked on him and he was trying to say she was after his money and the female ended up
deciding to press financial charges instead of criminal, go figure. the press only likes this story because it makes them money.
if people practiced the law like they were suppose to, we would not have justice based on revenge, we would have a just justice system based on health care and rebuilding people instead of attacking them personaly and making a media circus profit off them.
do not practice evil in fighting evil or you will become it.


Fact: Polanski committed child rape, but because of his fame was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge. He left a court ordered 90-day evaluation period (not prison) after 30 days. The judge in the case was under no obligation to honor all the prosecutor's suggestions. Judges weigh evidence and evaluate each case on its own merits. Polanski plead guilty and then, when it seemed he might do some jail time, fled the country. Others, from Mohammed Ali to G. Gordon Liddy to Michael Vick, have manned-up and done their time. You could argue the legality of extradition, or claim this is all political theater, but you can't change the fact that Polanski put himself in this situation. Paying an out of court settlement to the victim and retiring to your Parisian villa doesn't exactly make him worthy of sympathy.

@jay, who wrote "People with a beef towards the DA's office had better hope they never become a victim of crime!"

Why, Jay? Because if you criticize the D.A.'s waste of resources, he won't prosecute a crime you're a victim of? That's quite an accusation.

In any case, Anabelle's point was that by spending this much effort on a case that is 30 years old, one which even the victim has urged the D.A. to drop, Cooley is wasting resources that he could be spending here, pursuing cases and perpetrators that effect Angelenos at this moment. You can say he is "doing his best for us all" til the cows come home, but the fact is you can't spend a dollar twice. He should be spending it here.

The problem is, local crimes with anonymous victims and unfamous perpetrators don't make much in the way of headlines, and they don't do as much to help a D.A. with political ambitions.

If Polanski does this, it is "unlawful intercourse." If I do this thing, it is rape.

The D.A., Cooley, has shown just how self-serving and incompetent he truly is. He pursues Polanski in order to raise his own profile at the very moment when dangerous convicts are being let out of prison because the state can't afford to keep them. In other words, we tax payers are paying for Cooley's political grandstanding.

had polanski proven himself to be a menace to society then re-try based on those accusiation but being famous really creates a whole different set of legal criteria as everyone from david letterman to barrak obama has legal lawsuits from women complaining the most horrid (generaly nutcases) acts. Peoples head would swim if they read high profile celebs thousands of cases of women trying to get money accusing them of debautchery. Look at what happened with bill clinton and legal entanglements after monica lawenski. polanski should pay what he agreed to and be done with this, polanski isnt a fugitive from justice hes a cheapskate running from paying off his victim. legal issues like this are not the same for high profile celebrities as when clinton is accused of something he has 500 million women trying to sue him/take legal action.

$4.5 million. Wow. Wish I had that kind of dough. If I did I guess I'd be hanging out in a posh Swiss chalet. Come to think of it, why did he do such a stupid thing in this country where he knew he'd be in deep trouble if caught? In Europe where he's idolized he could have done it and no one would have said a thing. Makes no sense.

No, Jay, the DA is NOT doing the best thing for us all. Polanski is not a threat to anyone, has served a sentence, settled, paid his dues and moved on and never repeated the crime in his life. To make things worse, the original victim has stated repeatedly that she is not interested in being in the public eye and having to re-live the whole thing 30 years later.

So who is the DA serving?

Not the justice as the process was flawed by an eager judge decades ago. Not the victim as victim clearly does not want to see Polanski punished (again). And certainly not the public as Polanski is not a threat.

Why are people defending a convicted rapist who fled. Who cares if its 30 years ago. He was 41 years old when he raped a 13 year old girl. Get real he was a grown man over powering and abusing a child. 41 YEAR OLD MAN RAPING A 13 YEAR OLD CHILD. get that in your head and think about how cool that is and if you feel like defending him. He needs to be a man and face what he did head on. He is pathetic each moment he runs.

“This is a little like giving bail to O.J. [Simpson] after the Bronco chase.”---This is perhaps one of the most ignorant statements in journalism (even though a direct quote from a lawyer) to make print since "Dewey Defeats Truman."

Polanski out on bail is NOTHING like OJ out on bail.

Yet another example of slippery-slope,mind-control yellow journalism plaguing the world today.


The fact that Roman and OJ got off just shows that money talks in more than one continent.

State and Federal prosecutors routinely extradite people that have fled to other countries.

There was a high profile case where a rich famous kid was accused of rape and hid out in switzerland and europe working odd jobs at ski resorts, etc. They finally caught him, extradited him, and faced justice.

Just because the case is 30 years old does not mean he is still immune from justice. If you flee your court date you waive your right to statute of limitations, etc. You are a bail-jumper and can be brought back at any time for the rest of your life. It's the law. Like many serious crimes, it is very expensive for the DA to prosecute. However, if you don't prosecute a crime and extradite people, then people will just flee the country on a regular basis.

I don't see Polanski being singled out, the justice system is constantly hunting old fugitives for extradition on a continuous basis. He should get no special treatment in that regard.

State and Federal prosecutors routinely extradite people that have fled to other countries.

There was a high profile case where a rich famous kid was accused of rape and hid out in switzerland and europe working odd jobs at ski resorts, etc. They finally caught him, extradited him, and faced justice.

Just because the case is 30 years old does not mean he is still immune from justice. If you flee your court date you waive your right to statute of limitations, etc. You are a bail-jumper and can be brought back at any time for the rest of your life. It's the law. Like many serious crimes, it is very expensive for the DA to prosecute. However, if you don't prosecute a crime and extradite people, then people will just flee the country on a regular basis.

I don't see Polanski being singled out, the justice system is constantly hunting old fugitives for extradition on a continuous basis. He should get no special treatment in that regard.

Bail? You've got to be kidding me. Since when do you grant bail to a fugitive from justice? His sorry self belong in a jail cell until they drag his butt back before the court in Los Angeles.

This is payback for our strong arming UBS on tax evasion. In your face, USA!

All you people out there who claim to care so much about justice, where were you when the original judge in this case was abusing the legal system and lying to Polanski and his lawyer in order to promote his own personal celebrity status? Guess you don't mind judicial abuses as long as the abuses are for the side you support. Hello, hypocrite.

 
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