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Appeals court denies Roman Polanski's bid to throw out sex case

December 21, 2009 | 10:49 am

A state appellate court has denied Roman Polanski's attempt to have his three-decade-old child sex case thrown out on the grounds of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct.

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal 2nd District said a lower court judge did not err a year ago when he ruled that the acclaimed director, then a fugitive in France, had to surrender to U.S. authorities before pursuing the misconduct claims.

Lawyers for Polanski, now under house arrest in Switzerland pending possible extradition to Los Angeles, had argued earlier this month that the "fugitive disentitlement doctrine" cited by Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza did not apply to the filmmaker because of the egregiousness of the misconduct alleged. But in a decision today, the justices disagreed. 

"We conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in applying the fugitive disentitlement doctrine and refusing to consider dismissing the action," Justice Laurie D. Zelon wrote.

But referring to Polanski's claims of backroom dealings and other improprieties by the original trial judge, now deceased, and a prosecutor, she added, "We do not disregard the extremely serious allegations of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct that have been brought forward, but urge the parties to take steps to investigate and to respond to the claims."

-- Harriet Ryan

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