Roman Polanski’s attorney told a judge Thursday that the fugitive film director was dropping his request that the entire Los Angeles Superior Court bench consider disqualifying itself from hearing his client’s bid to regain membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and trial of the case was set for next summer.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel is scheduled to conduct the non-jury trial on Aug. 25.
In his earlier court papers in support of the disqualification request, Polanski’s lawyer, Harland Braun, stated the history of the Polanski litigation showed that any judgment rendered by the Los Angeles Superior Court “would raise an issue of impartiality.”
But he said in later court papers that Polanski now believes that the Los Angeles Superior Court “is in the best position to correct what he believes to be a historical and moral error.”
Braun recommended that before the trial starts, Strobel should first decide whether there is any validity to the Academy’s claim that Polanski’s case is barred due to the legal doctrine of fugitive disentitlement. The rule generally provides that a fugitive from justice cannot seek relief from the judicial system whose authority he or she has allegedly evaded.
But Kristen Bird, a lawyer for the academy, said she preferred to proceed to trial for now. The judge told Braun he could file a motion supporting his position later if he wished.
Strobel also said she was willing to have a brief telephone conference with the attorneys if they have trouble agreeing on what information should be exchanged between them before trial.
Polanski, now 86, was admitted to the film academy in December 1968 with the help of a letter signed by the late actor Gregory Peck, Polanski’s court papers state.
Polanski fled the United States in 1978 after being charged with statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl. He has continued to work and won an Oscar in 2003 for directing the World War II drama “The Pianist.”
Polanski and Bill Cosby — who is imprisoned for drugging and raping a woman — were expelled from the Academy in 2018.
“The board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity,” according to a statement from the Academy.
Polanski’s court papers maintain he was removed without notice or a chance to be heard and that his request for reconsideration was denied in January of this year.
Along with reinstatement, Polanski also is asking for attorney’s fees.
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