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Roman Polanski asks California appeals court to dismiss child sex case

An attorney for Roman Polanski urged a California appeals court panel today to throw out the filmmaker’s 1977 child sex case, citing what he called an “astonishing record of misconduct” by the district attorney’s office and the judge who originally oversaw the case.

Chad S. Hummel argued that Judge Laurence J. Rittenband improperly discussed how to punish Polanski with a prosecutor not handling the matter, and threatened to lock up the director for a longer period if his attorney challenged his decision to return Polanski to prison.

“It sends chills up your spine what this judge was doing,” Hummel told the three appellate court justices in downtown Los Angeles.

The director’s lawyers took his case to the appeals court after a Los Angeles judge declined to address similar arguments earlier this year, ruling that Polanski would need to return to the U.S. before any such decision could be made. 

The Academy Award-winning director has been under house arrest at his chalet in Switzerland for a week since his release on bail by Swiss authorities. He was arrested in Zurich in September on an international fugitive warrant.

During today’s hearing, the justices suggested that Polanski might be 32 years too late in his request to dismiss the case and that he could have had his lawyer raise such concerns at the time rather than flee the country.

The appeals court is not expected to decide whether the case should be dismissed, which would bring an abrupt end to the three-decades-old legal saga that has sharply divided public opinion on both sides of the Atlantic. Instead, the justices are weighing whether a trial judge can consider Polanski's request to dismiss the case and evaluate evidence of misconduct without the filmmaker first returning to California.

The district attorney’s office argued that a long-established legal doctrine means that the director cannot ask for any favors from California courts unless he returns from his self-imposed exile.

“Do we want to send the message to not only this defendant but all other defendants that flight is an option?” asked Deputy Dist. Atty. Phyllis C. Asayama.

The charges date back to a 13-year-old girl’s accusations that the acclaimed director, then 43, raped and sodomized her during a photo shoot. Polanski pleaded guilty to a single count of statutory rape after the girl’s parents urged prosecutors to settle the case to spare her the ordeal of a trial.

He spent 42 days in prison but fled after his attorney told him that Rittenband planned to give him an additional 48 days behind bars at his formal sentencing. An attorney for the victim spoke at today’s hearing in support of Polanski.

-- Jack Leonard at state appeals court in downtown L.A. 

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Comments () | Archives (46)

This case is OLD and Unique and riddled with political pressures that do not serve the public interest and do not even serve the victim. Its demonstrates to me more reasons why California is basically bankrupt. Absolutely this case unique case should be dismissed. That decision would send no such messages that fleeing the country is working the system. THIS case is extremely unique with specific facts that would serve the public best by DISMISSING IT at this time and forever.

Now is the time for all Polanski-haters to sign in and demand that Polanski be boiled in oil.

Better not dismiss this case!

He raped a 13 year old child. If the case had happened in this day and age, Polanski would be treated like any other person....his action was dispicable and the punishment should be harsh. When our society begins to treats these behaviors as criminal, we may begin to have a society that does not tolerate sexual deviance.

If they let it go, then others will use a similar defense. Keep in mind, that what happens in one case affects all others that come after it. It's only unique in the way it was handled but the case itself is not unique.

Polanski-haters demanding he be boiled in oil? Nah, him rotting in a cold jail cell will do just fine!

The fact that the case is old does not diminish the seriousness of Polanski's crimes. I would argue that it is most definitely in the public interest to try a fugitive child rapist. By dismissing the case, we would be condoning his actions; I don't see how seeking to bring a fugitive criminal to justice is more evidence of why the state is bankrupt. If anything, it would reinforce the idea that the state is morally bankrupt. No one is above the justice system.

Polanski is a sympathetic figure...

if you condone drugging and raping a teenager.

'Yet, he's been on the run son long, doesn't he deserve to be forgiven and accepted for his tastes?'

The logic fails. He deserves to spend his full sentence in jail; most 'common' criminals would also face an extended term for unlawful flight.

Why would anybody find this character sympathetic?

Can you believe that some have argued that he deserves special treatment because he is a genius? His movies, far from being great, actually reflect his interior sickness. Maybe his apologists can offer up their daughters and grand-daughters for some of his special tutoring sessions if they consider his behavior acceptable (and legal).

I don't hate the guy; I'm just disgusted by his actions, and his apologists.

Roman Polanski is highly talented. I do not hate him personally. And it is possible that this case costs the state/county money they don't have.
But I still don't understand why this man gets a "pass" on what he did or why most of them get a pass on doing things like this. Men should stay away from teens, period. Girls OR boys. I don't know why this is so hard for so many to do.
And I don't know why our society doesn't punish people who don't. If only someone could prosecute the sleazebags that hit on me as a teen and pre-teen, let alone the countless others who followed through with other girls. Why is justice always so "costly" when it comes to things like this but not in other cases?

If you've enough money, you can rape a child, flee the country for 32 years, and then get the courts to dismiss the crime.

Are you kidding!

If Polanski hadn't been a celebrity at the time of this incident, he wouldn't have gotten Judge Rittenbrand, who sought out high profile cases. If Rittenbrand hadn't been the judge, then the court would have abided by the decision of the Chino evaluation team and Polanski would have received probation, like many other first offenders. Polanski's life history would indicate that, while he likes young women, he's not a pedophile. Also, there are the psychologically mitigating circumstances of his wife's brutal murder just a few years before. I'm not excusing Polanski for what he did, but the justice system didn't work properly in this instance and everybody, including the victim, has suffered for it.

Look I don't like what he did, and I don't think anyone else does either. But really, what would the case look like if it wasn't a millionaire hotshot filmmaker? He wouldn't have even received a bail option let alone the most remote possibility of having the case dismissed. Not to mention that the man has ADMITTED the crime!! And just because he paid his victim after illegally fleeing 30 something years later doesn't mean he should walk. I mean, there are many victims of all kinds of crimes that would have preferred to not have charges pressed, but usually the state does anyways. I am sorry, but this whole situation screams reverse prejudice! If he had a decent defense, let him use that. But just let him buy his way out?? No way!

There's no evidence that Polanski even ended up paying the victim after a settlement was reached; I believe the agreed upon figure now stands at some $600,000 including interest.

At the very least, Polanski should be returned to California as soon as possible so that he can FACE whatever decision a court will make. Anyone who flees a court's jurisdiction for any reason must be brought back to justice. The original "sentence" of the court was totally and completely inadequate considering the seriousness of the (admitted) crime; but that should be left to the current court to remedy. In addition, there should be some punishment for Polanski for his flight from justice -- say 32 years in Folsom Prison -- not for the rape but for his arrogance and disregard for the American justice system. (Don't forget, he made millions from the American public from his movies -- he owes something [respect for American justice] in return.)

It's all about money!
Google Neil Goldschmidt - the former Portland mayor and Oregon governor.
Neil rapes the babysitter several times and walks away free. No jail, no fines, nothing.
It's all about the money!

Si Se Puede!

If the case is dismissed, the message sent is you can flee the country and ... years later walk ... WITHOUT any time in jail ... if you are rich and talented. Say "no" to that!

If Polanski was an ordinary person -- he would have been in prison for some time.

Now, that he has been a fugitive for 32 years, not only should he get a few years for his rape of this child, but he should get an additional 10 years minimum prison time for fleeing justice.

We should dismiss all cold cases unsolved and let rapist who flee the courts justice system free. He committed a crime people and if you for one moment think if it was your 13yr. old daughter and his acts were honorable then we should not register sex offender at all. HYPOCRISY does exist in our judiciary system but that doesn't mean we should turn our back on justice.

he is a pedofile???if he was a minorty in the us he would be in prison.
however.being anglosaxon its o.k.

"He spent 42 days in prison but fled after his attorney told him that Rittenband planned to give him an additional 48 days behind bars at his formal sentencing. "

BS. Polanski fled b/c Rittenband was telling people that he was going to send Polanski away for "the rest of his life."

A 48-day sentence for child rape? I don't understand they sympathies for this man. The time passed does not mitigate the seriousness of his offenses. Judicial or prosecutorial misconduct during his sentencing phase aside, Polanski pled guilty to having raped a 13-year-old girl after drugging her. These are not allegations--he was convicted! That's the crux of the issue, and should not be clouded by his attorneys' procedural smokescreens.

Richard Ivey: you are a pedantic millipede.

Polanski was not prosecuted for his molestation. He fled the country instead. He should be punished as every other pedophile because that's what he is, was, and will be forever.

Perhaps the hitman who killed Mr. Tidus had the wrong target... maybe he could do Mr. Hummel for free.

“It sends chills up your spine what this judge was doing,” Hummel told the three appellate court justices in downtown Los Angeles

NO SIR! What sends chills up my spine is what your client did! Hummel, how do you sleep at night? Your mother must be real proud.

Making excuses for a child rapist makes you an accomplice.

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