Roman Polanski’s attorney says in court papers filed Friday that the filmmaker will return to the United States for sentencing if a judge determines that he’s already served more than enough time behind bars for his 1977 guilty plea to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.
“Mr. Polanski asks this court to acknowledge that he was promised a specific custody portion of his sentence by Judge (Laurence) Rittenband and he has more than fulfilled the custody portion of his sentence,” defense attorney Harland Braun wrote. “With such assurance by this current court, Mr. Polanski will return to Los Angeles to be sentenced.”
The defense contends that the only “real issue” left in the case is whether the Oscar-winning director has already fulfilled the custody portion of his sentence that he had been promised about four decades ago.
In a telephone interview, Braun said of Polanski, “He’s just trying to basically put an end to a 40-year-old prosecution because he’s already done his time.”
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office had no immediate comment on the defense’s latest filing.
Polanski won’t return to the United States for a March 20 hearing on the defense’s request, Braun said.
Southern California authorities have tried for years to bring Polanski back to America.
In court papers filed earlier this month, prosecutors objected to the defense’s request to unseal transcripts of former Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson’s closed-door testimony in 2010 about the case while Polanski still remains a fugitive.
“The People maintain their position that the defendant should surrender himself to this court’s jurisdiction before he can avail himself of the remedies available to this court,” Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee wrote in a March 1 filing.
“What he cannot do is dictate outcomes from afar while insulating himself from any potential adverse consequence,” she said. “The affront to justice is suffered most by the People, who are unable to litigate any issue to a final conclusion while the defendant remains a fugitive and can simply decline to return should the court rule in a manner the defendant finds unfavorable.”
The 83-year-old director, writer and producer — who won an Oscar in 2002 for “The Pianist” — pleaded guilty in 1977 but fled to France in 1978 before his sentencing.
Polanski’s attorney wrote that the Los Angeles Superior Court — through Rittenband, who died in 1993 — promised Polanski that he would be placed on probation if he received a favorable probation report, then broke his initial promise but promised the filmmaker that he would satisfy any custody requirement of his ultimate sentence if he went to prison for a diagnostic study.
“After Mr. Polanski served his time at the state prison diagnostic study, he was set to return to court for the sentence he had been promised. But Judge Rittenband announced to (Deputy District Attorney Roger) Gunson and defense lawyer Douglas Dalton that he again planned to break his promise and now would send Mr. Polanski to state prison for one to 50 years. But Judge Rittenband assured the attorneys that he could be trusted to keep another promise that he would secretly recall the state prison sentence if Mr. Polanski agreed to leave the country,” Braun wrote.
“Because of Judge Rittenband’s broken judicial promises, and Mr. Polanski’s fear that Judge Rittenband would not honor his third promise, he left the United States.”
Polanski’s attorney said his client had been offered a 42-day term and has served more than 350 days, including time in Switzerland while Los Angeles County prosecutors were seeking his extradition.
— City News Service
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