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Los Angeles court hearing scheduled in Roman Polanski case

January 4, 2010 |  5:49 pm
Two weeks after a state appellate court proposed a way to bring Roman Polanski’s long-running legal saga to a close, a Los Angeles County judge has scheduled a hearing on the 32-year-old child sex case.

Polanski’s lawyers and prosecutors are to appear before Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza on Wednesday, but the subject of the proceeding was unclear. Court officials described the hearing only as a status conference.

A spokeswoman for the L.A. County district attorney’s office said the filmmaker’s lawyers requested a meeting with Espinoza, the supervising judge of the criminal division. Polanski's lawyers initially wanted the meeting to occur behind closed doors.“We thought that it was inappropriate,” said D.A. spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons. She said prosecutors wrote a letter asking that the hearing take place in open court but remained in the dark about what issues the defense planned to raise.

An attorney for Polanski, Chad Hummel, declined to comment.

In a decision last month, three justices of the 2nd District Court of Appeal refused to throw out the case but suggested that sentencing Polanski in absentia would allow for a full airing of the director’s allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct without requiring the 76-year-old director to return to the United States.

Polanski remains under house arrest at his Swiss chalet while courts weigh an American extradition request.

In 1977 a 13-year-old girl told police that Polanski raped and sodomized her during a photo shoot. He pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor but fled to Europe before his 1978 sentencing.

Swiss authorities arrested him in September as he arrived in Zurich for a film festival.

-- Harriet Ryan