Roman Polanski. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Roman Polanski. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

In court papers released Friday, Los Angeles County prosecutors objected to what they’re calling the defense’s request for an “advance preview” of how much time filmmaker Roman Polanski would face if he returns to the United States for sentencing on his 1977 guilty plea to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.

“The People’s consistent and unwavering position since the day the defendant violated his promise to appear and fled the country is that there will be no discussion regarding what will happen until Mr. Polanski returns,” Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee wrote in the prosecution’s latest court filing.

Polanski’s latest attorney, Harland Braun, has said his client won’t be in court Monday before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon, the latest in a series of judges to hear motions in the case.

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.

Southern California authorities have tried for years to bring Polanski back to America.

Braun filed court papers March 10 in which he wrote that Polanski will return to the United States for sentencing if a judge determines that he’s already served more than enough time behind bars in connection with his plea.

Polanski’s attorney wrote that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Laurence Rittenband — who died in 1993 — promised Polanski that he would be placed on probation if he received a favorable probation report, then broke the 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.”

“Mr. Polanski asks this court to acknowledge that he was promised a specific custody portion of his sentence by Judge Rittenband and he has more than fulfilled the custody portion of his sentence …,” 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 Polanski has already fulfilled the custody portion of his sentence that he had been promised about four decades ago.

In the prosecution’s filing, Hanisee responded, “The People oppose the defendant’s request for this court to represent what the defendant would be sentenced to if he returned. Once again, defendant is requesting an advance preview of the hearing he would get if he did come to court before deciding whether or not to return to this jurisdiction.”

The prosecutor wrote that the case has a “bizarre procedural history” over the last several decades that has “consisted of repeated requests by the defendant for secret hearings and special treatment.”

“The defendant is, once again, trying to dictate the terms of his return without risk to himself. His proposed order indicating that this court can reinstate the bench warrant after 180 days if he does not appear, is proof that his return is conditioned on getting the answers he wants. Defendant wants answers — but will only show up if he likes the answers. He forfeited his right to make requests of the court when he fled,” the deputy district attorney wrote.

In response to the prosecution’s latest filing, Braun wrote that Polanski is asking the court to “keep its promise of 90 days or less” and accept the district attorney’s representation to a Swiss court that Polanski has credit for 335 days already served, or to sentence him in absentia — without Polanski appearing in court — to the 335 days he has already served.

— City News Service

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