CA Appeals Court Rejects Roman Polanski's Motion to Dismiss Case

A California appeals court has rejected Roman Polanski's bid to dismiss his 1977 case due to prosecutorial and judicial misconduct.

The 70 page opinion is here (pdf).

We conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in applying the fugitive disentitlement doctrine and refusing to consider dismissing the action. In so doing, we do not disregard the extremely serious allegations of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct that have been brought forward, but urge the parties to take steps to investigate and to respond to the claims.


Update: I've now read the opinion. I'm going to quote at length, assuming that most people won't bother to read it and will just assume Polanski lost. As you'll see if you keep reading, I think the Court all but signals Polanksi will ultimately prevail, if not with a complete dismissal, with no more than time served.

Update: My distillation of the 70 page opinion was 4,500 words, way too long for a blog post, so I've removed it from this post and placed it here (pdf).

An appeals court decides questions of law. It does not decide new facts. So it can't decide the ultimate question of whether Polanski was treated unfairly. But, this opinion all but screams, as I've opined for months, Roman Polanski went for a ride on the elevator of justice, and all he got was the shaft. Free Roman.

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    I'd just like to say (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by CoralGables on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 01:27:57 PM EST
    that I'm very disappointed in our resident Polanksi PhD for not beating you to the punch on this Polanski news update.

    And I'd just like to say, too (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by Cream City on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 01:44:15 PM EST
    that I am stunned that you, not that commenter, are the first to comment.  And that I'm the second.

    Callout for oculus!  


    I am sooo bummed Just got (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by oculus on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 01:44:18 PM EST
    Off plane and DCA's notification awaited me. Let,s give steve m credit re fugitive disentitlemant doctrine.

    Whew. All is right in the world (none / 0) (#15)
    by Cream City on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 03:33:57 PM EST
    as oculus is back on the Polanski beat.  

    Back to our regularly scheduled programming, um, commenting. . . .


    Stunned (none / 0) (#16)
    by CoralGables on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 03:38:05 PM EST
    Stunned I tell you. After all this time of keeping up, you miss the big news of the day and get the Polanski beat down. Someone had best bake you some Chräbeli to help turn that Swiss chalet frown upside down.

    I'll ask for this here in Austin. (none / 0) (#31)
    by oculus on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:14:50 AM EST
    Yesterday I had my first ever breaded and grilled avocado.

    Can't believe we're still getting mileage here ... (none / 0) (#14)
    by Ellie on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 03:30:39 PM EST
    ... from Chinatown bits. (cf) When my tiny cute-as-a-bug sister comes over with my adolescent eldest nephew -- who towers over his mom already -- I never tire of asking him, "Hey Claude, where'dja get the midget?" (We still guffaw I'm almost ashamed to admit. WTF, that was one of the best screenplays evah.)

    cf It's about to knock Scarface, The Godfather(s) and The Big Liebowski off the top of the go-to quote mill, and these are films I couldn't get my sleuth of nephews to sit still and watch before. (They're bourgeoning filmmakers and I'm trying to get them to learn some real chops, including "enduring" B&W, as in film noir (The Big Sleep) and pulpy genre cinema.)

    Maybe not all hope is lost, even if snark is the doorway to learning there's more to visual arts culture than piano playing cats on YouToob!


    please stay on topic (none / 0) (#19)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 04:02:20 PM EST
    it's the court of appeals decision that I just spent more than an hour reading and summarizing. thank you.

    Yes, I read that (and thanks) ... but I hope same (none / 0) (#24)
    by Ellie on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 04:31:33 PM EST
    ... goes for the other non-brief related chatter-posts you bypassed to get to my one post.

    Consider my keystroking knuckles duly (and fairly) rapped, otherwise.


    I am vindicated! (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by Steve M on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 01:50:50 PM EST
    The fugitive disentitlement doctrine lives to fight another way.  As someone might have said back in the good old days of orange, suck on that, BTD. ;)

    heh (none / 0) (#5)
    by andgarden on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 01:52:04 PM EST
    You did call that. But scanning this option, it's not all doom and gloom for Polanski. The dicta is good for him.

    read the opinion (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 03:07:36 PM EST
    the court says it is not mandatory, and is up to the trial judge.

    In the courts words (none / 0) (#21)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 04:04:47 PM EST
    ...Fugitive disentitlement, however much it may advance legitimate policies... is not an automatic rule but a discretionary tool of the courts that may only be applied when the balance of all equitable concerns leads the court to conclude that it is a proper sanction for a party's flight....The doctrine is a blunt weapon, not appropriate in every matter in which a party
    has fled criminal prosecution.

    It doesn't matter (none / 0) (#28)
    by Steve M on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 06:27:09 PM EST
    Polanski is not being punished for what he did then, but for what he is doing now, i.e. continuing to evade the jurisdiction of the very same court he wants relief from.  I'm not surprised at all that a court isn't interested in hearing this sort of "heads I win, tails you lose" petition from someone who has no intention of showing up and defending himself if the motion is denied.

    The historical misconduct in this case seems pretty bad to me (although not beyond the pale) but I personally wouldn't want to set the precedent that any time a defendant thinks he's being jobbed he's entitled to just up and flee the jurisdiction.  He's pretty lucky he wasn't prosecuted separately for fleeing.


    Maybe he will be prosecuted... (none / 0) (#29)
    by diogenes on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 08:54:50 PM EST
    If he makes it back to California, maybe the grand jury will give him an unpleasant surprise in the form of another indictment.

    Don't think so (none / 0) (#30)
    by Steve M on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 09:07:14 PM EST
    The way our extradition treaties work, I think, is that you can't extradite someone and then bring new charges against them. We would have had to disclose in the request for extradition that we intended to pursue flight charges.

    Actually (none / 0) (#34)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 12:44:16 PM EST
    I don't think that would apply in this case, since Polanski fled before he was sentenced, there has been no final judgment in the case, ergo, no fifth amendment protection.

     Oculus could speak to this.


    Yes (none / 0) (#18)
    by jbindc on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 03:54:04 PM EST
    I should hope, therefore, that his case would eventually be dismissed with prejudice, as an object lesson to us all that our legal system is only as strong as our own willingness to apply its standards across the board in a fair and equitable manner, regardless of a defendant's wealth, fame, family, social status and / or public notoriety.

    And prove, once again, that if you have enough money to run to live in a Swiss chalet, you too can also not be punished for the secondary crime of fleeing.

    The poor would be less (none / 0) (#25)
    by MKS on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 04:58:53 PM EST
    able than Polanski to hold prosecutors accountable for misconduct....

    So, if you're poor--or just average--prosecutors have pretty much the unfettered ability to get away with just about anything....


    How about (none / 0) (#26)
    by jbindc on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 05:03:48 PM EST
    criminal defense attorneys?  Do you think the poor have a better chance of succesfully fighting ineffective assistance of counsel claims? 'Cuz I know it's not just bad prosecutors out there...I've seen many horrible criminal defense attorneys too.  Who's fighting for these poor innocent defendants who go to jail because of the incompetence of their counsel?

    I would better fund Public Defenders (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by MKS on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 05:12:49 PM EST
    Someone here suggested that they get as much funding as the prosecutors....I think that should be made true in any given case--the resources should be equal in each case.....

    We live in a society that believes in the police and prosecutors in knee-jerk fashion.  The presumption of innocence, I'm afraid, really does not apply very often in practice.

    As more and more innocent people are freed, perhaps attitudes will change.


    connection to the post? (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by diogenes on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:23:28 AM EST
    Are you saying that Roman Polanski was not guilty of anything, be it rape or flight from justice?

    Polanski's plea (none / 0) (#36)
    by Jeff Norman on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 09:32:03 PM EST
    From Polanski's plea hearing:

    MR. GUNSON: What is the maximum sentence for unlawful sexual intercourse?

    THE DEFENDANT: It's one to fifteen - - twenty years in State Prison.

    Nobody corrected Polanski when he said he believed the maximum sentence was 20 years, even though it was actually 50 years. Therefore, the plea isn't valid and the Court's approval of it should be withdrawn, because a defendant who pleads guilty must understand the potential consequences of the plea.