Pants On Fire

Marina Zenovich, the director of last year’s documentary, "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" has issued a statement regarding former LA Deputy DA David Wells' recantation of his statements regarding his contacts with the judge in the Roman Polanski case:

“I am perplexed by the timing of David Wells’ statement to the press that he lied in his interview with me…. Since June of 2008, the film has been quite visible on U.S. television via HBO, in theaters and on DVD, so it is odd that David Wells has not brought this issue to my attention before.”


She continues. “For the record, on the day I filmed Mr. Wells at the Malibu Courthouse, February 11, 2005, he gave me a one-hour interview. He signed a release like all my other interviewees, giving me permission to use his interview in the documentary worldwide. At no time did I tell him that the film would not air in the United States.”

“Mr. Wells was always friendly and open with me,” says Zenovich. “At no point in the four years since our interview has he ever raised any issues about its content. In fact, in a July 2008 story in The New York Times, Mr. Wells corroborated the account of events that he gave in my film. I’m astonished that he has now changed his story. It is a sad day for documentary filmmakers when something like this happens.”

Zenovich also says a sequel is in the works.

Wells appeared on CNN today, and Wolf Blitzer challenged him to take a lie detector test:

Blitzer challenged Wells to a polygraph test, and he agreed to take one if his former employers at the Los Angeles County, California, District Attorney's office allow it. "I'm not going to do anything more to hamper the District Attorney's case," he said.

District Attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said the office had no position on the polygraph challenge. "Mr. Wells is retired," she said. "We have no control over him."

The results wouldn't be admissible in evidence absent the agreement of all parties. California Evidence Code Section 351.1(a) addresses the admissibility of polygraph examination results in criminal proceedings.

§ 351.1 1
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the results of a polygraph examination, the opinion of a polygraph examiner, or any reference to an offer to take, failure to take, or taking of a polygraph examination, shall not be admitted into evidence in any criminal proceeding, including pretrial and post conviction motions and hearings, or in any trial or hearing of a juvenile for a criminal offense, whether heard in juvenile or adult court, unless all parties stipulate to the admission of such results.

Under California case law, under 351.1, polygraph evidence of an attorney is also inadmissible in a state bar proceeding absent agreement by the Bar. Why? From Arden v. State Bar, 43 Cal. 3d 713 (Cal. 1987)

Because the results of polygraph examinations lack the requisite level of scientific acceptance and thus are of questionable probative value, a stipulation among the parties is required for such evidence to be admissible.

The Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations issued a resolution in March recommending that legislation be sponsored to amend Evidence Code Section 351.1 to extend the ban to civil, family, juvenile and probate matters.

Historically, polygraph examinations have been deemed inadmissible due to: (1) their lack of scientific reliability under Kelly/Frye; (2) the lack of state oversight or standardization of polygraph examiners, their qualifications and their testing procedures,; (3) the concerns for substantially increased trial time to litigate collateral issues regarding the reliability of the test and qualifications of the examiner and (4) the concern that jurors/trier of fact would assign excessive credence to polygraph examination results.

As I wrote this morning, there are a lot of misconduct allegations against the judge in the case that don't pertain to Wells. Whether he was lying then or lying now, I doubt he will be the determining factor.

And in the "interesting connections" department, the DOJ official in the Office of International Affairs who submitted the extradition request for Polanski last week was Nicholas Marsh. Marsh was one of the prosecutors on the Ted Stevens case -- part of the team that improperly concealed exculpatory evidence against Stevens. Marsh was transferred to the OIA in June, after his service on the Stevens case.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Whatever (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Oct 01, 2009 at 09:43:54 PM EST

    Whatever Wells said then or says now has been reduced to ZERO credibility.

    were there actual facts (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by cpinva on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 09:09:46 AM EST
    in evidence

    "Facts already in evidence?" This is about the improprieties of the judge and prosecutor, not about Polanski's guilt.

    regarding said asserted improprieties, i'd quite agree. such is not the case here.

    Facts in evidence-- (none / 0) (#8)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 09:38:18 AM EST
    Polanski pleaded guilty to sex with an underaged person. No denying the plea.

    Or would it be pled? (none / 0) (#9)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 09:38:51 AM EST
    English is a lifelong learning process...

    that whole (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Thu Oct 01, 2009 at 07:48:22 PM EST
    their lack of scientific reliability

    has always been somewhat problematic, with regards to polygraph tests. the agreement of all parties to admit the results into evidence doesn't change that. it's basically voodoo, akin to reading the bumps on your head.

    put him on a witness stand, under oath, and let attorneys question him.

    it's why (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Oct 01, 2009 at 08:00:17 PM EST
    cross-examination has been referred to in learned legal treatises for eons (see Wignore) as,   "the greatest legal engine ever invented for ferreting out untruths in the courtroom." (a paraphrase.)

    It's hard to figure out what Wells was (none / 0) (#3)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Oct 01, 2009 at 08:58:42 PM EST
    thinking when he did the documentary. Did he just hear "Movie" and think Hollywood without consideration to the magnitude of what he was saying? Was he embellishing just to hear himself talk bold since he wasn't under oath? So caught up in the moment being filmed that he thought he was only exposing the missing ethics of the deceased judge?

    I'd like to hear he was lying during the interview and that such blatant abuse of power didn't really happen in the judicial system.

    that's kind of what i was wondering. (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by cpinva on Thu Oct 01, 2009 at 10:13:17 PM EST
    Did he just hear "Movie" and think Hollywood without consideration to the magnitude of what he was saying?

    some people are so taken with being in front of a camera, they'll say the most unbelievably stupid things.

    as jeralyn and i both agree, putting him on a witness stand is the best way to ferret out the truth. however, in order for that to even have a chance of happening, mr. polanski will be required to return and face the charges against him.

    that said, regardless of the validity, or lack thereof, of mr. wells' statements, the facts of the case haven't changed one iota: mr. polanski drugged and raped a 13 year-old girl.


    Isn't there a legal phrase, (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 08:57:55 AM EST
    "Facts already in evidence?" This is about the improprieties of the judge and prosecutor, not about Polanski's guilt.

    Okay, that's my one comment on the Polanski affair. Back to just reading, because I haven't wanted to get involved in the stick-poking-at-cats situation.