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

A Los Angeles judge Monday rejected a request by Roman Polanski’s attorney for a determination that the Oscar-winning filmmaker has already served more than enough time behind bars in connection with his 1977 guilty to plea to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.

Defense attorney Harland Braun filed court papers March 10, saying Polanski will return to the United States for sentencing if a judge determines that he has “already done his time.”

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon, however, ruled there is “no sufficient or compelling basis for reconsideration of these issues.”

“Moreover, counsel for defendant has not presented sufficient credible, admissible evidence or legal arguments to warrant the relief requested,” Gordon wrote in a 13-page ruling.

Gordon’s ruling detailed Polanski’s attempts to get the case dismissed in 2008 and then to resolve allegations of misconduct in a 2014 filing. The judge in each of those cases declined to consider the issues while the filmmaker was a fugitive from justice.

“The People have unambiguously stated their desire to avoid discussing any substantive issues regarding Polanski’s case until he is physically present in the court’s jurisdiction,” Gordon wrote, stating that the district attorney is well within her discretion in taking that stance.

“Additionally, Polanski is not entitled to avail himself of this court’s power to hear his demands while he openly stands in contempt of a legal order from this very court,” according to the ruling.

Braun had asked in his court papers that Gordon order the District Attorney’s Office to give some indication of how much time — if any — it wants Polanski to serve if the director were to arrive in Los Angeles from his home in Paris.

Gordon denied that request.

In a separate pleading, Braun had asked the court to honor an alleged promise by Judge Laurence Rittenband to forego additional jail time for Polanski in exchange for the filmmaker’s submission to a diagnostic study.

Gordon denied that request on grounds that Polanski must present himself to the court to seek relief under the fugitive disentitlement doctrine.

Braun also asked Gordon to honor the findings of a Polish court that declined to extradite Polanski.

“The defendant may not use his fugitive status to obtain findings from a decision from a Polish court to bind this court, from which he fled,” Gordon concluded.

A request to sentence Polanski in absentia was settled in 2010 by Judge Peter Espinoza, Gordon ruled.

“One trial judge cannot reconsider an order of another trial judge, as doing so places the second judge in the role of a one-judge appellate court,” Gordon wrote, citing case law in denying that request.

Braun told City News Service he was disappointed in the ruling and in particular that Gordon did not address emails sent between the presiding judge and Espinoza in the case.

“The central issue was the secret emails between the judges,” with the presiding judge telling Espinoza “exactly how to rule,” Braun said, calling the exchange “totally improper.”

The defense attorney argued that all of the cases Gordon cites in his ruling are undermined by the existence of those emails.

“They go to the heart of the honesty of our system,” Braun said.

In 2009, Polanski’s counsel sought to disqualify Espinoza and all other Los Angeles Superior Court judges on the basis that they had prejudged the case, citing in part emails provided by a former court public information officer.

Gordon did not address the emails directly in his ruling, but pointed out that the defense’s challenge to disqualify the judges was stricken and a subsequent petition by the defense to the appellate court on the matter was summarily denied.

Gordon said no new facts had been raised by Polanski in the most recent filings.

Braun said he had not yet decided how to respond to the latest ruling, but noted that another hearing in the case is set for April 26. The matter before the court will be the defense’s request to unseal sworn testimony by Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson.

During a hearing in March, Braun described Polanski as “an 83-year-old man with a 40-year-old case,” and said the filmmaker “has already done his time” and wants to resolve the case with a finding that he has already completed his sentence.

However, Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee countered that what Braun is asking for is special treatment for his client.

“The People simply do not believe that it is in the best interests of justice to give a wealthy celebrity different treatment from any other fugitive from justice,” she said.

The 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 and has been living in Europe.

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

— City News Service

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