The Fleecing of Roman Polanski

I finished watching "Wanted and Desired" last night, with my good friend Anita Thompson, who is down from Owl Farm and staying with me a few nights a week for the next month or so as she takes the LSAT prep course in Denver. She was a toddler in 1977 when Polanski was arrested and hadn't followed the case.

Now, having watched the film, and listened to ex-prosecutor David Wells tell in his own words how he manipulated and advised the Judge behind closed doors how to get around a plea bargain in a manner that would prevent Polanski from appealing, heard the Judge state in his own words how he intended to impose an illegal condition on Polanski, watched as both the DA on the case and Polanski's lawyer separately tell, in their own words, the same story about the judge's misconduct, from making express promises he later renegged on to forcing them to participate in a sham hearing while demanding they not tell the media, listened to the victim and her lawyer describe, in their own words, how events transpired and how the Judge disregarded what was in her best interests, Anita too is appalled at how Roman Polanski was treated. [More...]

That this could happen to a famous director with excellent representation should send shivers to everyone else about what could happen to them. Instead, people want to spout off on the vigilante justice they think appropriate for Polanski based on crimes to which he never pleaded guilty and which were never proven in a court of law.

Ignorance and vengeance knows no bounds in the court of public opinion. Particularly by those who turn a blind eye to the facts. (Here is the Motion to Dismiss (pdf)and the Victim's Declaration (pdf).)

Shorter version: Roman Polanski went for a ride on the elevator of justice, but all he got was the shaft. Free Roman.

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    Query: why did any DDA (former or (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:52:51 AM EST
    current) agree to be interviewed for the film re an open case?  

    just a guess (none / 0) (#28)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:55:26 AM EST
    because he saw it as a horrible miscarriage of justice?

    Or because, as Wells acknowledged, (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:01:06 PM EST
    any self-respecting "trial" DDA craves publicity?

    On the one hand, because of his celebrity, (5.00 / 2) (#38)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:02:26 PM EST
    because his victim did not want to live through the endless tawdry publicity associated with Polanski's crimes against her, the prosecution accepted an extremely generous plea deal on Polanski's behalf.

    On the other hand, because of the extremely generous plea deal due to his celebrity, and perhaps some other reasons as well, some people working for the the prosecution were not happy with what seemed to be a real miscarriage of justice and (apparently illegally) sought to correct it.

    Polanski did what he did, and then (after the court allowed him to spend 90 days in Tahiti working on a movie) the consequences were that he spent 42 days in a prison psych ward (not that that makes it 42 days of easy time, I'm sure).

    While I certainly understand the reason that some advocate for him based on prosecutorial misconduct (or whatever) I hope that those people also can understand why others don't agree.

    Indeed, this is the very issue that should be (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by vicndabx on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:06:36 PM EST
    discussed.  Is the judicial "misconduct" actually misconduct in this case?  For some it seems, it's not.

    I thought we discussed this in the open (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:06:40 PM EST
    the links are in tact there.

    Sticking to comparison's with Polanski, because I already did the research in the earlier thread...

    A ten minute search throws back the following cases in California which share similarities with the Polanski case and where the defendants do not seem to me to have been significantly worse treated, despite their lack of celebrity.

    Here's a guy who was convicted of statutory rape under CPC 261.5 (one count), lewd and lascivicious conduct with a minor using threats of force under CPC 288a(b)(1) (four counts), and lewd and lascivicious conduct with a dependent minor using threats of force under CPC 288a(b)(2) (two counts). He got six months County time and probation.

    Here's someone who was convicted of statutory rape under CPC 261.5 and lewd conduct with a dependent minor using threats of force under CPC 288(b)(2). He got five years probation.

    This chap started his recorded criminal career in April 1989, when he was convicted of possession of a narcotic substance for sale. In November 1989, he was convicted of receiving stolen property. In May 1990, he was convicted of carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle.  In March 1993, he was convicted of misdemeanor battery.  In April 1994, he was convicted of committing battery causing serious bodily injury. In August 1994, he was convicted of taking a vehicle without the owner's consent. In April 1995, he was again convicted of misdemeanor battery, sentenced to 75 days in jail, and placed on probation. With all of that on his record - in 1995, he was convicted of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor under CPC 261.5, given 15 days in jail, and placed on probation.

    Another one, who was accused of drugging and raping his sister, was charged with rape by use of a controlled substance (CPC 261(a)(3)), incest (CPC 285), transporting a controlled substance (HSC 11379(a)), committing a controlled substance violation through use of a minor (HSC 11380(a)), unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor (CPC 261.5 (c)), use of a controlled substance (HSC 11550 (a)), indecent exposure (CPC 314(1)), and two counts of committing degrading, immoral, or vicious practices in the presence of children (CPC 273 (g)). He agreed to plead guilty to the incest charge and was given three years probation.

    This guy molested one child and raped another. He was charged with unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor more than 10 years youger (CPC 261.5(c), rape by a foreign object (CPC 289(h)), misdemeanor child molestation (CPC 647.6(a)]) and lewd act on a child (CPC 288(a)) and convicted on all counts. His sentence was 1 year local time and 5 years probation, despite having fought all counts instead of pleading, and despite having been convicted on all counts.

    All of these cases are far more recent than Polanski's, and for better or worse, statutory rape was treated less seriously then, particuarly of 'bad girls'. I don't think time served, at 42 days, was an outlandish sentence given the circumstances of the time.


    And my response, in that thread: (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:11:05 PM EST
    And I'm sure there are many cases,  also similar to Polanski's, in which the defendents' sentences were more onerous, so what does that prove?

    That aside, your comment does not address my point:

    if he had had no celebrity, his victim would almost assuredly not have been so willing to accept his plea bargain, which she did accept only to avoid the publicity that was due to his celebrity.

    So, because of his celebrity, he gets 6 indictments pled down to one.

    I don't think he really spent all his days in (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:06:49 PM EST
    custody in a "psych ward."  He was interviewed by psychiatrists selected by the court (probably with input from DDA and defense counsel) and housed at a state correctional facility, but almost certainly not in psych. facility.  

    he was at Chino (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:15:50 PM EST
    a maximum security prison for 42 days. When he got visitors, it was amid the general population. Watch the movie. There's footage of him being booked in. Watch and listen to those who visited him describe the visits. If you intend to ignore facts, that's your business. But don't present false statements here.

    In addition, the judge illegally intended to send him back there for 48 more days. This, after he was found not to be a MDSO (mentally disoriented sex offender). The law prevents using the psych program as punishment. Just at it prevents a state court judge from imposing a requirement of voluntary deportation.


    Feel free to delete away (5.00 / 7) (#58)
    by Emma on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:19:36 PM EST
    The law prevents using the psych program as punishment.

    So Polanski never did spend a day in prison for raping that girl.  Just like my post you deleted said.  His being in prison wasn't punishment, i.e. a sentence for his crime.  So why'd you delete my comment?  Polanski never spent time in prison for raping a child.


    He was never found guilty of raping a child (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:34:27 PM EST
    The rape charge was dismissed. His guilty plea was to unlawful intercourse with a person under 18 who was not his wife. Period. If you insist on making false statements, your comments will be deleted.

    IOW (5.00 / 5) (#79)
    by Emma on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:46:53 PM EST
    he pled guilty to statutory rape.

    Because Drugging and F%$#ing an 8th Grader (5.00 / 4) (#199)
    by msaroff on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 05:00:07 PM EST
    Isn't rape, right?

    My problem with thing has nothing to do with Jeralyn's argument regarding the legalities, they seem be valid, and should be adjudicated.

    What sticks in my craw is when Washington Post sociopath columnists like Richard Cohen and Anne Applebaum suggest that there should be no consequences for consequential people, i.e. not even an adjudication, because Roman Polanski is a great artist, or because investigating Cheney, or Yoo, or Addington will somehow politicize the torture.

    Polanski is a great artist, but that does not mean that he gets off without a fair adjudication of his case.

    It may very well mean that he will spend some time in stir in California while it's adjudicated, whether he wins or loses, but that is the law.

    My guess is that the case will be dismissed without prejudice, and that the LA District Attorney will decline to refile, because their main witness is uncooperative, and because the defense will argue that they cannot mount an effective defense because to the passing time and the publicity circus.

    But what do I know, I'm an engineer, not a doctor, dammit! (I LOVE IT when I get to go all Doctor McCoy!!!)


    Yeah, I agree (none / 0) (#202)
    by jbindc on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 05:11:37 PM EST
    Anne Applebaum should be taken seriously in this matter, seeing as how her husband is a Polish foreign Minister who is lobbying for Polanski's case to be dismissed.

    Good point (5.00 / 3) (#139)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:15:13 PM EST
    I mean sure its called Statuatory Rape by most people but hey its not "Rape-Rape" because that's not what he's pleaded guilty to.

    Even though (5.00 / 5) (#140)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:16:00 PM EST
    by virtually any reading of the facts that's exactly what he did (Rape and Sodomize a 6th grader).

    As the father of a daughter, (5.00 / 9) (#157)
    by coast on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 03:32:30 PM EST
    and I'm speaking for myself only, the dismissive attitude that some have shown on this site of the act for which he plead guilty to is, in a word, repulsive.

    Amen (5.00 / 3) (#190)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:48:38 PM EST
    And here are two more words to add:  saddening and predictable.

    and you are mixing up two different events (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:33:06 PM EST
    The judge initially appointed a psychiatrist to do an eval to determine if he was a MDSO outside of the custodial setting. After the shrink said Polanski was not a MDSO, and the probation department recommended no jail, the judge (improperly through ex parte communications with Wells and at Wells' urging, who had told him Polanski would not be able to appeal if it was done this way) told the lawyers he was going to send Polanski to Chino for the in-custody psych eval as part of a preliminary (not final, and therefore not appealable) sentence.

    Based on that promise, Polanski showed up in court and voluntarily surrendered to Chino for the psych eval (which, given the first shrink's assessment, should never have been ordered. But, again, Wells had explained to the judge this was how he could impose jail time on Polanski without Polanski being able to appeal, since it wasn't a final sentence.)

    The judge was pissed off they finished the eval in 42 days when they could have taken 90. Then Wells brought him a photo of Polanski at Octoberfest and told the judge Polanski was "flipping him off." The judge became determined to give Polanski another 48 days (42 + 48 =90.) He then told the lawyers he was going to send Polanski back to Chino for further testing for 48 days and if the new report matched the first one, he's release him if he agreed to voluntary deportation. He told the lawyers he would not follow the probation report even though the original plea bargain (and law) required him to. Illegal and unethical any way you cut it. As for appealing it, Polanski would have had to do so from prison while illegally in custody.


    Well (5.00 / 9) (#78)
    by Steve M on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:44:50 PM EST
    he would have only been in custody for the first 48 days of that appeal.

    Lots of us are willing to acknowledge highly improper conduct on the part of the judge here while still feeling that, at the end of the day, 90 days in jail for what Polanski did is still a really generous deal even though it was a completely illegal sentence.

    I respect that, as a defense attorney, you routinely stand up for "the principle of the thing."  The legal system and our society would be poorer if you did not.  But if I can be real for just a moment, Polanski did not flee the jurisdiction because of "the principle of the thing."  He fled because he didn't want to spend another 48 days in jail!


    Ohmigod (5.00 / 5) (#143)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:18:07 PM EST
    An additional 48 days for having sex (if you believe Polanski) with a 6th grader- truly that is a horror which is worth fleeing the country to avoid.

    Thanks for the clarification. I did note (none / 0) (#83)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:50:24 PM EST
    earlier the defense brief in support of request for dismissal of case includes discussion of PC 1203.03(a) and footnote includes that subsection of the statute which permits the trial court to order a criminal defendant to be evaluated in custody of Department of Corrections for up to 90 days for amenability to probation.

    It would be interesting to read the Dept. of Corrections evaluation report of Polanski.

    Never heard of sending a criminal def. for further eval. under that statute.  


    It seems pretty clear (5.00 / 1) (#102)
    by Steve M on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:05:49 PM EST
    that the whole "evaluation" process was just a sham to enable the judge to give Polanski some jail time without giving him the opportunity to appeal and put it off indefinitely.  The DA's admissions make that pretty indisputable.

    yup (none / 0) (#105)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:06:46 PM EST
    It wouldn't be the first time a judge (none / 0) (#107)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:10:02 PM EST
    used that statute for that purpose.  If I were Polanski, I'd rather have been housed at Chino than LA County detention facilities.  Much safer.

    Here's my newest prediction: (none / 0) (#117)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:19:08 PM EST
    Polanski ends up detained re extradition in Switzerland for at least the remainder of that 90 days.  LA DA's office drops request for extradition.  In another 10 years, Polanski's attorneys in U.S. either move to reduce PC 261.5 conviction to a misdemeanor or move to dismiss the conviction altogether.  No one remains in DAs office who cares, calendar deputy is asleep at the wheel, motion granted.

    Bookmarking this post. See you in 2019. (5.00 / 2) (#130)
    by Steve M on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:38:18 PM EST
    It was my layperson's (none / 0) (#129)
    by Fabian on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:37:20 PM EST
    understanding that a negative psych eval would have given the judge the ability to have Polanski involuntarily deported as an "undesirable alien".  Or the Feds.  However that works.

    But he passed the eval, so that option was no longer open.


    Usually the mere fact of a felony (none / 0) (#135)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:49:21 PM EST
    conviction is enough, if the feds know about it, to deport.  That is what happens after the undocumented person resides in CA correctional institution.  

    Wouldn't the status (none / 0) (#168)
    by Fabian on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:14:59 PM EST
    of "undesirable alien" affect someone's ability to enter the country legally?  Visas, work visas - that sort of thing?  Essentially "Leave and don't come back!".

    So if Polanski had been convicted of a felony and sentenced, he may not have been able to work in the United States?


    That's my understanding. Espec. after (5.00 / 1) (#171)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:19:14 PM EST
    9/11, lots of artistic types who used to come and go w/visas w/o problems are having problems now or just not getting visas.  And not necessarily due to felony criminal record.

    not absolutely certain (none / 0) (#49)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:10:02 PM EST
    but I believe you are incorrect.

    I know what the media reported but (none / 0) (#55)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:17:14 PM EST
    suspect it isn't accurate.  The only "psych" state facility is at Vacaville and I haven't heard he spent time there.  State correctional faciities have a mental health section w/i outpatient facility and can house inmates who are a danger to self or others for a short time, then need to get a court order to retain the inmate in that setting against inmate's will.  

    He served his time ... (none / 0) (#72)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:40:47 PM EST
    in Chino (a state penitentiary) which has areas for inmates undergoing "evaluation."  He was in one of those.

    re the plea bargain (5.00 / 2) (#59)
    by ding7777 on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:21:54 PM EST
    Was this a "charge bargain plea" or a "sentence bargain plea"?

    If it was a "charge bargain plea", the judge was not involved with the plea, so there was nothing for the judge to "renege".

    Good question. Certainly the plea (none / 0) (#89)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:53:26 PM EST
    bargain was not recited on the record of change of plea.  

    Exactly (none / 0) (#144)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:20:24 PM EST
    I'm not entirely sure why some people on here seem to think the judge not abiding by the terms of the plea agreement would be wrong- judges aren't bound by plea agreements they choose to honor them.

    Wow (5.00 / 7) (#95)
    by jbindc on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:59:12 PM EST
    Even France is not quite as outraged as it was over this.

    France's government Wednesday softened its stance on the arrest of Roman Polanski for having sex with a 13-year-old girl, calling it a serious case after initially rushing to the film director's defense.

    France and Poland, where the 76-year-old Oscar-winning director spent his childhood, at first called his arrest in Switzerland unjust and indicated they would appeal to the United States.

    But after several politicians voiced unease over the case, which dates back to 1977, France took a more moderate line and said Polanski was "neither above nor below the law."

    "A judicial procedure is under way concerning a serious case, the rape of a minor, and the U.S. and Swiss justice systems are doing their work," French government spokesman Luc Chatel told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

    "On the other hand, there's emotion, and we can understand the emotion stirred up by this belated arrest, more than thirty years after the events, and the method of the arrest," he said.

    The funny quote, however, is about the "belated arrest" - um no - he was arrested 30 years ago.

    DA's Office, LA County, (none / 0) (#110)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:14:48 PM EST
    "Advisory Roman Polanski":



    Wells Backs Off (5.00 / 1) (#138)
    by JDB on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:07:57 PM EST
    Allegedly, Wells is backing off what he said in the doc, telling Marcia Clark that he lied to make the story better.  Link.

    Bwahaha (5.00 / 4) (#150)
    by Steve M on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:35:30 PM EST
    Yeah right, he lied.  I find it hard to believe that a scrupulous prosecutor makes up a story like that - casting the legal system into disrepute and impairing the reputation of a dead judge - just to "stir the pot."  But still, the recantation definitely impairs the value of the documentary to Polanski's lawyers.  They can argue that it's an admission against interest and ought to be believed, but now there's some doubt.

    Ms. Clark, however, adds some context to the sentencing process that makes the 90-day "evaluation" look much less shabby than it appears to folks like me:

    A plea bargain was worked out, allowing Polanski to go into state prison for "90-day diagnostic testing." Back in those days, it was fairly common to let a defendant plead guilty to a lesser charge and have him go in for that diagnostic--a series of psychological tests, and a thorough background check--and if the prison didn't recommend any further time, the judge would abide by that recommendation. "It's likely Judge Rittenband agreed to abide by the recommendation and give Polanski no additional time after he finished his diagnostic," Wells said. "What he probably didn't count on was that Polanski would promise to put everyone in the prison in his next movie and basically charm his way out of there in just 42 days."

    Clark also makes an interesting point that the passage of time actually serves to make Polanski's crime look worse, not better:

    Although there'd been grumblings about the wrist slap of a sentence, Wells said, "You have to remember, this was the '70s. People had a different state of mind about sex crimes back then. They were asking what the girl was doing at his house to begin with, talking about how she wasn't a virgin anyway. I said, `What difference did it make? She was a child, just 13 years old. Who cares what she'd done before?'"

    Those were the days when folks still believed rape was "easy to charge and hard to disprove." And that old adage couldn't have been further from the truth. Prosecutors well knew that unless the victim was Snow White, the case was toast. All too often, the victim got put through the shredder at trial, framed up as the "slut" who "deserved" it, only to wind up hearing the jury say "not guilty." And the victims felt they'd gone through all that misery for nothing.

    ...And if this case does go to trial, Polanski might find himself wishing he'd gotten it into court back in 1977. Because Wells was certainly right. The '70s are long gone, and today people see rape for the crime it is.

    she also says this (none / 0) (#151)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:38:26 PM EST
    I believe him. It's absolutely forbidden to have one-sided communications with a judge about a pending case.

    oh well then sure
    I believe him too.


    My first reaction: Marcia Clark? (none / 0) (#154)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:54:35 PM EST
    Who cares what she writes.  But I think her assessment of the case is pretty good.  

    Is there no end to what people will do to (5.00 / 2) (#156)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 03:09:18 PM EST
    be in a movie?

    And in interview with LAT: (5.00 / 1) (#209)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 05:41:05 PM EST
    but THIS you accept (none / 0) (#141)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:16:55 PM EST
    without question.

    "I lied. I know I shouldn't have done it, but I did. The director of the documentary told me it would never air in the States. I thought it made a better story if I said I'd told the judge what to do."

    I don't accept it (5.00 / 4) (#145)
    by lilburro on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:21:02 PM EST
    without question, but it's a timely reminder of why documentaries can be not "simply facts."

    first of all (none / 0) (#142)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:17:54 PM EST
    it was an HBO documentary.  where did he expect it would air do you suppose?

    It wasn't an "HBO doc." (none / 0) (#167)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:14:40 PM EST
    It was produced independently, HBO merely bought the final product at Sundance and aired it.

    Never said . . . (none / 0) (#148)
    by JDB on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:26:40 PM EST
    I never said I accepted it.  Merely passing it along as another data point to consider.

    I would consider he is in CYA mode (5.00 / 2) (#149)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:34:01 PM EST
    because he is afraid he will be charged with something.  after all lying in a documentary is not a crime.

    Now, having watched the film, (5.00 / 1) (#159)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 03:49:26 PM EST
    Now, having watched the film, and listened to ex-prosecutor David Wells tell in his own words how he manipulated and advised the Judge behind closed doors how to get around a plea bargain in a manner that would prevent Polanski from appealing
    And now Wells has apparently recanted and in his own words says that entire part of the "documentary" was a lie.

    That didn't take long.

    I wonder if it be ignored by the "Free Roman" movement?

    yeah (none / 0) (#161)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 03:52:44 PM EST
    who knew an HBO documentary would be shown in the US?

    Indeed. Oh, (5.00 / 1) (#162)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:03:04 PM EST
    except that it was an indie project sold to the Weinsteins and HBO at Sundance.


    Director Marina Zenovich: We sold it to HBO and Weinstein at Sundance. Then we sold it to TH!NKFilm.  It's very hard. I mean, the past couple years it hasn't been that hard to get theatrical distribution; it's just hard to sell tickets. I didn't know whether this film should be seen on the small screen or big screen. When I showed it to Polanski's agent, it was the first time I saw it on the big screen. I thought: you know what this holds up; this works. I'm thrilled that it's coming out theatrically and HBO has been wonderful. I got lucky on this one. It doesn't happen on every one. Every film has a life of its own. It's just that the stars are aligned on this one

    One happy director. (5.00 / 1) (#170)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:17:07 PM EST
    why shouldnt she be? (5.00 / 1) (#178)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:30:13 PM EST
    In making this film, I discovered that this was a tragedy for everyone involved. It was a tragedy for the girl, Samantha Geimer, and her family. It was tragedy for Polanski, because he fled. It was a tragedy for the DA in the case and Polanski's lawyer because they felt that they failed somehow. I felt it was my job to explain how people think they know the story, but they don't. That doesn't excuse Polanski in any way, but it shows what he went through. I think the best viewer for this film is someone who can't stand Roman Polanski and is disgusted by what happened. But if they allow themselves to watch the film, they usually come away from it feeling differently. If not about the crime, then at least about the aftermath.

    yeah, no bias there (5.00 / 1) (#184)
    by lilburro on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:38:29 PM EST
    "watch this film and you won't be disgusted by Roman Polanski!"

    a suggestion (5.00 / 1) (#185)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:42:34 PM EST
    try watching it

    ok (none / 0) (#172)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:19:31 PM EST
    so HBO bought it at sundance.
    thats reason enough to believe everything that this buy says.

    NOW I mean.


    A reasonable man would probably now (5.00 / 3) (#174)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:24:39 PM EST
    take anything Wells said/says off the table, since it appears that what he says cannot be trusted.

    if you remove everything (none / 0) (#182)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:36:57 PM EST
    he said that still leaves quite a bit of ugly stuff.

    it was not about him.


    of Polanski's request to have the case dismissed under the bus:
    In December 2008, Polanski's lawyer in the United States filed a request to Judge David S. Wesley to have the case dismissed on the grounds of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct. The filing says that Judge Rittenband (now deceased) violated the plea bargain by keeping in communication about the case with a deputy district attorney who was not involved.
    It'll be interesting to see how many more of the freeromaner's dominoes fall...

    The judge is conveniently (none / 0) (#194)
    by Fabian on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:54:59 PM EST

    It's hard to see how there can any real investigation of the facts unless you put people under oath - under what pretext?


    Duh. (none / 0) (#173)
    by Fabian on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:21:29 PM EST
    Media markets are set up to milk every dime of profit out of any release - which usually means releasing it in as many countries as possible, as many ways as possible - broadcast, cable, theaters, DVDs, internet, even house parties!

    Either he is as thick as a brick or just trying to save face by backpedaling furiously.  Either way, he's not coming across as a reliable witness.  As was pointed out elsewhere - none of this was under oath.  

    "make a better story"?  Was he the only one?


    Either way, he's not coming across (5.00 / 1) (#176)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:26:00 PM EST
    Either way, he's not coming across as a reliable witness.
    My point exactly.

    Not at all (5.00 / 1) (#195)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:57:02 PM EST
    It was a one sided proceeding at which Polanski and his lawyer were not represented and the testimony was not subjected to cross examination. An indictment is only an accusation. It is not evidence. It may or may not be what happened and it certainly can't be said to be what happened.

    I'm not hosting a discussion on the allegations, so don't bother, take it elsewhere. This is about what happened after the charges were filed.

    I guess my problem with your position (4.61 / 13) (#6)
    by Slado on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:29:11 AM EST
    Jeralyn is you are asking us to take a very skeptical view of the judicial system but to take a very unskeptical view of Polanski.

    I've read the testimony of the victim and it is awful.

    In the most unskeptical light Polanski commited some sort of crime.   It might not be rape, but it was not consensual sex either.  

    All your points are valid but the simple fact remains that he was guilty of something and rather then let this play out he skipped.

    I can accept the argument that Polanski was the victim of judicial misconduct but that could have come out in court and he had the money to appeal quite frankly if it did happen.  

    I cannot overlook his crime.  You stat he was never found guilty but why is that?   Is it not because he skipped bail?

    The real victim in this case wants this over so she doesn't have to keep reliving it.  Not because Polanski is not guilty.  She has maintained her position all along that he raped her and I have no reason not to believe her.

    This case is a mess but acting like Polanski is some martyr is simply offensive to many people.   The real victim is the actual girl now women that is so rarely talked about.   She was a victim of Polanski and then a victim of the media and finally a victim of the judicial system that let her down.

    The problem with your analysis is (5.00 / 5) (#40)
    by scribe on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:03:43 PM EST
    that the criminal justice system does not exist to exact some level of "vengeance", "making things right", or whatever you might call it on behalf of the victim of the criminal act.  Civil actions (i.e., lawsuits) by the victim against the perpetrator are the forum, and method, for redressing the personal harm the victim suffered.  

    Rather, the criminal justice system exists to redress the balance between the peerpetrator and society as a whole.  Thus, society - through its legislative and executive branches - has decided that certain acts (legislatively defined), when proven beyond a reasonable doubt, are to be redressed in certain ways.  For some, society may have decided that a monetary fine is a sufficent sanction.  For others, society has decided that a term of time to be spent in captivity is the appropriate sanction.  The function of hte judiciary in the criminal justice system is to provide a forum and a procedure for determining what exactly happened, and whether it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

    In Polanski's case, there is little doubt - based upon the statements by the people involved, on video, that the entirety of the process was corrupted.  In large part, that process was corrupted by the combination of ambition and emotion in the judge, who wanted to either make a name for himself, or impose a sentence which would express an emotional response, rather than a rational one, to the acts Polanski was prepared to admit having committed.  The corruption of that judge was elicited, encouraged, and egged on by a prosecutor who wanted (I suppose) to effect some level of vengeance or inspire fear or make a name for themsleves as being "tough".

    In sum, this case highlights the core problem of people discussing criminal justice, one which has gone beyond infecting to taking over the body politic:  a substituion of lizard-brain reaction, emotion and hate - stirred up, fueled and stoked by sophisticated public relations and propaganda methods - in the stead of anything even resembling rational behavior.  

    The statements of the people on the documentary are pretty astounding.  As to the lawyers, they are as close to admissions of unethical conduct as you will ever see.  

    But, under what passes for the standards we are subjected to, such slack-jawed idiocy as some of the commenters passes for intelligent contribution.  "Hey, he's guilty, so let's get him and to hell with everything else" is becoming of a white-hooded lynch mob.  It's reminiscent of the boys marooned on the island in Lord of the Flies, going after Piggy with a stick and, those who've read the book will recall, spitting him while he was still alive.

    It's also becoming of people who embrace torture as legitimate.

    Be careful what you wish for;  you might well get it.  And, it's far more likely that you will be on the receiving end than on the dealing.


    And Documentaries are never biased (4.33 / 6) (#52)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:15:38 PM EST
    What was stunning about that (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:40:53 PM EST
    documenatary was that the had first hand interviews with the prosecutor and the judge and the things that they said about their own conduct in the case.  You don't want people like that controlling our justice system; and the only way to protect society against those kinds of practices is to deny them a "win" even if you think a person in a particular case is guilty as sin - because not everyone that people like go after that are guilty and those people will be victimized.  So you have to ask yourself if one Roman Polanski in jail is worth ten, twenty, thrirty or even hundreds of other innocent people sent to jail.  I really don't think that that is a worthwhile trade off.

    Those Duke boys weren't guilty and yet their lives are still ruined by an unethical and corrupt prosecutor.  What if they hadn't had the resources to defend themselves?  They would have been in jail today and that prosecutor would be going along fine doing the same to tons of other people.  One wonders how many people he did that to prior to getting caught on the Duke case.  It isn't a good thing and it certainly doesn't do anything to protect society - if anything it is destructive and wasteful.


    Well actually (5.00 / 9) (#81)
    by Steve M on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:47:08 PM EST
    if I were the appellate court or the supervising judge, and Polanski's lawyers had come before me at the time and presented evidence of all this misconduct, I would have thought the appropriate handling would be to discipline the people involved and to reassign Polanski's case for resentencing (and a new plea, if that's what the defendant wanted) before a new judge.  I would not view dismissal as an appropriate remedy.

    Reading a comment like this (5.00 / 4) (#82)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:49:58 PM EST
    Causes me to have some hope in our legal system.  It will never be perfect, nothing will....but it can be accountable.  We all owe the accountability we owe, and that includes Polanski.

    the judge was taken off the case (5.00 / 2) (#99)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:03:35 PM EST
    It went to a new judge. There's a dispute about what the new judge said. The DA and Polanski's lawyers say the judge met with them alone in chambers and said he would allow Polanski to return on his own, hold a hearing, and dismiss the case without Polanski serving a day in custody -- but that the proceeding had to be televised. Both lawyers have submitted declarations about this. Polanski objected to the condition it be televised. The new judge denies he told the lawyers the proceeding had to be televised. Only the three of them were present and the DA and Polanki's lawyer agree and say the Judge is not being truthful. It hasn't yet been resolved.

    But (5.00 / 1) (#109)
    by Steve M on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:11:41 PM EST
    that whole thing with the new judge was 20 years later!

    Based upon the case law cited in the motion to dismiss, I think a reviewing court would have discretion to dismiss the case as relief for the misconduct that occurred here.  But on balance, I personally believe resentencing would be the more appropriate step.

    Resentencing after all these years have gone by is sort of absurd, of course, which is why I framed my comment in the context of what I would have done had the misconduct been known at the time.  The fact that the affair has dragged on so long is attributable to the defendant's flight, however, so it's kind of hard for me conceptually to say he should get better relief now than I would have given him but for the delay.


    You could always sentence him on (none / 0) (#207)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 05:30:56 PM EST
    the felony FTA.

    I said nothing about a dismissal. (5.00 / 3) (#114)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:17:14 PM EST
    I said, "...deny them a 'win'" - that is different.  People like that judge and that prosecutor should be stopped - sometimes that ends up meaning that someone you'd rather not free goes free - but not always - it depends.  What's bothersome to me about all of the outrage about Polanski being free is that in fact the world has not stopped over the 30 years because he didn't go to jail for longer than he did.  Did anyone else notice that the world has gone on?  That the girl has moved on?  That California has NOT fallen into the ocean as a result?

    I wish people would get this upset about the Nixon pardon and the defacto pardons of Bush & Cheney - then we'd really be doing some good - because those people are real threats to society, this country and even the world.


    its really amazing (2.00 / 2) (#84)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:50:53 PM EST
    how different the opinions of people are regarding that film when they have actually, you know, SEEN it.



    I fail to see how (5.00 / 2) (#86)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:52:24 PM EST
    the documentary exonerates Polanski.

    it doesn't exonerate Polanski of the offense (5.00 / 3) (#103)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:06:11 PM EST
    to which he pleaded guilty. It establishes, via the words of the ex-DA Wells and the judge, he was denied his right to a fair proceeding, particularly his right to due process of law.

    You don't see that evidence (5.00 / 4) (#108)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:11:08 PM EST
    as highly cherry picked and edited in the documentary though?  Without knowing what was excluded and who wasn't even asked to contribute or purposefully excluded, I have no idea how balanced this glimpse is.  So much of it is nothing but conversations...many of which have nothing to do with the charges or the trial but seem to desire to create a certain "atmosphere".

    I'm surprised (5.00 / 7) (#116)
    by jbindc on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:18:01 PM EST
    That as a criminal defense attorney, you will accept a movie that has been edited as the final word on what really happened in this case, and especially since none of these people in the movie are under oath in a court of law.  If the situation was reversed, and you had a client who was going to prison based on things said in a movie (where you could not cross examine and authenticate everything presented), your head would rightfully explode.

    I agree but (5.00 / 2) (#132)
    by Slado on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:43:10 PM EST
    what rights did Polanski give up or more appropriately what crime did he commit when he fled?

    To me that's the missing link in all this.  He deserved his day in court but then he fled before he got it?

    What do we do about that?


    He committed another crime by (5.00 / 2) (#208)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 05:32:43 PM EST
    failing to appear at the sentencing hearing.  New crime could be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor.  

    doesn't exonerate Polanski (none / 0) (#113)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:15:14 PM EST
    tried to make that point several times.

    I gave up


    Well, it isn't really about Polanski (5.00 / 2) (#106)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:08:19 PM EST
    as much as it is a fairly damning look at our justice system at its worst.

    I've always been troubled by the fact that the majority of judges come out of the prosecutors' offices.  Far fewer public defenders end up being asked to be judges.  That right there should make everyone a bit concerned about what's going on in our criminal justice system.  But whatever.  I take a much broader view of crime and punishment than many people do.  Most criminals eventually end up in jail - an exercise that may or may not have much value in many cases - and not always for the thing that you're fixated on - but most end up doing something that lands them there - because as my father always said about his clients, "they're really just not that smart."


    Where I'm from (none / 0) (#112)
    by jbindc on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:15:12 PM EST
    And a lot of other places too - district and county judges run for office, so there's nothing stopping a criminal defense attorney from running.

    They run for office here (5.00 / 1) (#118)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:19:59 PM EST
    I'm growing to like that.  But you have to pay attention and stay informed about them.  It isn't always the easiest thing for an outsider like me to track.

    And defense attorneys run for (none / 0) (#119)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:20:10 PM EST
    judgeships on what?  How often do they win in this crime and punishment obsessed culture of ours?  Nothing stopping them from running, but lots stopping them from winning especially in our current political and cultural environment.  Seems to me that a PD would lose a vote in this little thread alone.

    A defense attorney just beat out a prosecutor (none / 0) (#124)
    by tigercourse on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:27:19 PM EST
    to become the DA of Manhattan.

    he was also a former prosecutor (none / 0) (#165)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:10:01 PM EST
    under Morganthau.

    I've seen the film (5.00 / 6) (#98)
    by Slado on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:03:20 PM EST
    and it confirmed what I stated above.

    There was much to be sad about.  The crime, the media uproar and the circus of a prosecution.  

    But remember none of this would have happened if Mr. Polanski hadn't raped a young girl, period.

    Because he was a celebrity all the things Jeralyn and others are talking about happened.  In a perfect world he would have been treated the same as a normal citizen but he wasn't a normal citizen he was a celebrity.  That both worked in his favor and against him.  It is intellectually dishonest to complain about one without acknowledging the other.

    To the point that the judicial system isn't about revenge, good point.  However the judicial system isn't about selective justice and that is what Mr. Polanski is really asking for.   There are safeties in the system for out of control prosecutors and judges and it is intellectually dishonest to believe that Mr. Polanski didn't have the means to not only fight them but to expose them.

    Simply put Mr. Polanski was too important to be treated as a normal citizen in his mind so he fled the country.  All of Jeralyn's points have merit and would be the ammunition for his vigorous defense.  Instead of staying to offer that defense Mr. Polanski chose to flee.  


    I am unwilling to accept the film as (5.00 / 8) (#104)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:06:44 PM EST
    "truth."  It's a movie!  The participants were not under oath, subject to cross examination.  Assuming what DDA Wells sd. in his reported statement is correct, yes, he and the judge should not have had ex parte communication regarding Polanski's case.

    Really the reviews I've read (4.20 / 5) (#147)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:26:01 PM EST
    seem to state that its nothing less that a piece of propaganda that soft pedals the rape of a 6th grader.

    read some more reviews (5.00 / 1) (#166)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:13:47 PM EST
    You hear the judge, two ex-DA's and the defense lawyer in their own words. If you read the transcript of the documentary, attached to the motion, you will see where Wells was asked repeatedly and specifically about his account. To ensure there was no question about what he meant, they had him restate what he did in complete sentences and in context. Of course he wants to recant now, what he did and admitted to was reprehensible.

    "Of course he wants to recant" (none / 0) (#201)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 05:11:30 PM EST
    who could be surprised by this?

    From what I saw (5.00 / 2) (#183)
    by Fabian on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:37:13 PM EST
    the documentary spends time polishing Polanski's image to a high gloss.

    Indeed. (none / 0) (#137)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:54:32 PM EST
    And many of us have the same concern about Polanski. If he could do this to one 13 y/o, could he have done it to others?

    phony argument (5.00 / 1) (#169)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:15:48 PM EST
    given he's spent the last 30 years without any allegations of misconduct towards young women, let alone criminal activity.

    OK, (5.00 / 2) (#179)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:31:32 PM EST
    then I assume you equally forcefully reject the comment I was replying to - the suggestion that this judge and prosecutor have, through illegal means, colluded for years to put innocents in jail. Because, after all, there have been no other allegations of this misconduct for them.

    No. They aren't. (none / 0) (#62)
    by scribe on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:27:34 PM EST
    They are films which collect facts and present them.

    The bias is in the viewer's eyes and conclusions.


    Good god. (5.00 / 6) (#63)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:30:48 PM EST
    Hmmmm (5.00 / 4) (#68)
    by jbindc on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:35:09 PM EST
    So the fact that the movie said the judge had a couple of girlfriends at the same time was relelvant to the topic of this documentary how exactly?

    Got your attention, didn't it? (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by scribe on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:38:22 PM EST
    Maybe it implies he couldn't be honest or faithful to anything, let alone a girlfriend.

    I see (5.00 / 10) (#77)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:44:35 PM EST
    People who have consensual sex with adults are more untrustworthy than people having non-consensual sex with children.  I can trust Polanski, but I can't trust the judge.

    Sex had nothing to do with my comment. (none / 0) (#100)
    by scribe on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:04:50 PM EST
    Honesty and/or integrity - or the possible lack thereof - did.

    So the fact that he was friends with more than (5.00 / 2) (#111)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:14:48 PM EST
    one woman at a time is a problem?

    Not really (5.00 / 4) (#92)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:56:32 PM EST

    The bias in a documentary is in the selection of which facts to present, and which to exclude.

    Awesome (5.00 / 4) (#146)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:23:45 PM EST
    hey can I get that quote on the "Triumph of Will" a documentary on the Purity and Justness of the Aryan Cause, because you know its a simple collection of facts and anything presumption that its not true is simply my own bias.  

    That is the sad part (none / 0) (#60)
    by nyjets on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:24:12 PM EST
    If the prosecutor and judge not acted the way he did, Roman would of plead guilty , he would of done his time, the victim would of gotten justice, and everyone could of moved on.
    This is what happens when the powers that be mess up, you get what is happening now. You get a legal mess, Roman will never really answer for whatever crimes he has been accused of, the victim does not get justice and people will not be able to move on.

    I will be the first to admit, something has to be done to keep the powers that be honest, espically after this mess.


    Very well put (4.00 / 4) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:40:38 AM EST
    well put? (3.50 / 2) (#14)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:44:06 AM EST
    there is so much crap in that comment its hard to know where to start so I wont even bother except to say if that person made the smallest effort to actually find out some facts about THIS CASE . . . .

    never mind.


    Just because a young girl (4.20 / 5) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:47:40 AM EST
    later on figured out a way to attempt to disassociate from what was done to her does not make what was done to her okay.

    and no one ever said it did (none / 0) (#19)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:50:08 AM EST
    no one

    So she wasn't 13 (none / 0) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:51:06 AM EST
    and she wasn't raped?

    that's not the issue (5.00 / 3) (#32)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:57:22 AM EST
    As much as you would like it to be. This is now about the misconduct of the judge and how his actions tarnished the system and prevented justice for everyone -- Polanski, the victim and the people of the state of California, in whose name the action was brought.

    I disagree (5.00 / 7) (#47)
    by jbindc on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:09:44 PM EST
    The alleged judicial misconduct (not proven anywhere except in a highly edited movie) is one issue.  Polanski's conduct, both at the time of the rape, and in the act of fleeing the jurisdiction, is a separate issue.  They may be related, as in, he fled because he was supposedly scared of going to prison and he thought the judge might revoke the plea deal (but no one will ever no for sure, since it never happened).

    He may have had a reason for fleeing, but that does not excuse him for doing so.


    High time (5.00 / 6) (#54)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:16:42 PM EST
    This is now about the misconduct of the judge and how his actions tarnished the system ...

    Then its high time for Roman to face justice from a new judge.


    Completely agree (5.00 / 2) (#56)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:18:50 PM EST
    Seriously, how can you write that (5.00 / 6) (#61)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:24:36 PM EST
    when you just wrote this?
    Instead, people want to spout off on the vigilante justice they think appropriate for Polanski based on crimes to which he never pleaded guilty and which were never proven in a court of law.
    What miscunduct did the judge plead guilty to or was proven in a court of law?

    You're going entirely by highly selective & highly edited hearsay.


    I heard the judge in his own words (none / 0) (#69)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:37:15 PM EST
    say he was insisting Polansky agree to voluntary deportation. That's illegal. Try watching the film.

    Did the judge say he acted illegally? (none / 0) (#75)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:42:52 PM EST
    An additional issue: Polanski (none / 0) (#74)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:41:12 PM EST
    FTA'd for felony sentencing hrg.

    no one (none / 0) (#24)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:53:29 AM EST
    ever said it was ok

    I'd just like him tried for crime is all (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:54:52 AM EST
    plenty of murders (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:57:12 AM EST
    have walked because of misconduct on the part of police.
    as awful as that is I do not want to see any other outcome because if we do no one is safe.

    Since when have I ever been the sort of (5.00 / 4) (#36)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:02:15 PM EST
    person who stops seeking justice just because justice wasn't found in some other past situation I had no say in?  This is a blog that invites my say.  He needs to be tried for this past situation that he ran away from.  I'm never going to cop out on arguing for today's truth by using yesterdays failures as an excuse to just not do anything.

    That's different (5.00 / 1) (#136)
    by ColumbiaDuck on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:51:52 PM EST
    There is a distinction between the court finding fault and dismissing a case and a defendent deciding that he can just skip the process and live free elsewhere.

    He will never be tried for the underlying (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:58:22 AM EST
    crimes unless he withdraws his plea of guilty to PC 261.5 (statutory rape).  

    I suppose that I'll have to settle for less (4.00 / 4) (#39)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:03:18 PM EST
    than I'd like :)

    Well, then you should be mad at the (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:44:07 PM EST
    judge and the prosecutor for totally blowing the entire process.  Prosecuting him properly was their job and they blew it.

    A documentary (5.00 / 5) (#80)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:47:00 PM EST
    isn't a grand jury investigation.  I would like this all investigated thoroughly without editing.  And I would like Polanski properly tried.

    yeah (none / 0) (#90)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:54:28 PM EST
    good luck with that argument.  I tried that one yesterday.

    Some of us are arguing (5.00 / 1) (#101)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:05:11 PM EST
    with each other...expressing our opinions.  It isn't as if any of us will "win" our arguments though because we aren't a part of this case and how it will be handled or not handled :)  We're just arguing with each other :)

    But this goes to the principle that our (none / 0) (#158)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 03:37:08 PM EST
    criminal justice system is really only as good as those who are running it.  The thing is that some of us are looking at the big picture here and others are looking at the specific case.  In my opinion, the big picture questions about how the system failed are far more important than whether or not Roman Polanski is sent to a California jail.  It isn't like he hasn't lived an uncomfortable life over the past 30 years.  He has been under threat of potential capture or whatever since this whole thing happened.  He's lived in a form of hell all this time.  Sometimes the gods mete out punishment they way they want to and not they way you want to see it, but that doesn't mean that people aren't punished in the end.

    A form of hell? (5.00 / 5) (#163)
    by lilburro on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:04:12 PM EST
    He was under threat of capture BECAUSE OF WHAT HE CHOOSE TO DO.  I wish I could go to "hell"!

    Yeah and he lived it. (none / 0) (#191)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:50:01 PM EST
    I wasn't pointing that out with any sympathy.  Just pointing out that living on the lam isn't exactly the life of riley - and certainly would have lasted longer than any jail sentence for statutory rape would have carried for statutory rape in the 1970's in California woud have.

    well (5.00 / 1) (#196)
    by lilburro on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:58:03 PM EST
    I still disagree with your characterization, but thank you for your thoughtful/civil comment.

    20 years max, indeterminate sentence (none / 0) (#206)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 05:27:55 PM EST
    per change of plea transcript.

    Sorry (5.00 / 7) (#164)
    by jbindc on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:08:07 PM EST
    He has not lived an "uncomfortable life". He probably hasn't given two thoughts to what happened until it inconvenienced him. To say that is silly.

    The bigger picture is that it is in society's best interest not to let convicted felons walk away from their sentencing hearing because they may not like the outcome. It also behooves society not to allow rich Hollywood directors who commit felonies to traipse around Europe, while we incarcerate poor people for the same crime.


    It is ridiculous to think that a guy who (3.25 / 4) (#193)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:53:15 PM EST
    has been under constant threat of arrest for 30 years hasn't given this a second thought.  Get real.  It appears that you're so angry that you can't be rational about the facts of the situation.

    No (5.00 / 6) (#197)
    by jbindc on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:59:32 PM EST
    Anyone who thinks a criminal who has a house in France and elsewhere across Europe, and parties with the rich and famous is unduly burdened is the one who is irrational.

    Not in France. (5.00 / 2) (#198)
    by Fabian on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 05:00:02 PM EST
    As a citizen, he was quite safe there.

    Give it up MT. Lost cause. DA's (5.00 / 3) (#122)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:23:22 PM EST
    office sold you out!

    I suppose I've argued (5.00 / 2) (#128)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:36:27 PM EST
    what isn't mine to argue long enough today :)

    If it makes you feel any better, Steve Lopez (5.00 / 1) (#160)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 03:50:04 PM EST
    is also outraged:



    Should the LA County Superior Court (4.60 / 5) (#1)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:16:18 AM EST
    ignore the fact Polanski FTA'd for felony sentencing hrg.?  If so, why?  Tincture of time?  Allegations of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct?  If for either of these reasons, should the court ignore other felony sentencing FTAs where the defendant makes such allegations and absents him/herself from the jurisdiction for a long period of time?

    It is a difficult (none / 0) (#8)
    by eric on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:36:40 AM EST
    question.  Surely we don't want people to flee and be excused because mere allegations of misconduct.  But here, we DO have misconduct.  I am all for the rule of law, but this was not law, this was misconduct and corruption.

    But shouldn't these issues be litigated (5.00 / 5) (#12)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:41:10 AM EST
    under oath, as opposed to, say, in a film?  Also, a different udge would be sentencing Polanski if he is actually extradited to LA County.  (The more I think about it, the more I think LA County will decide not to spend the $$ to extradite.)  

    Actually (none / 0) (#15)
    by eric on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:44:29 AM EST
    I think they should be litigated in a court somewhere neutral - not here in the US.  Do we honestly expect that Polanski can get justice here?

    Ridiculous. The judge who allegedly (5.00 / 3) (#27)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:55:02 AM EST
    talked to the calendar DDA about the case outside the presence of defense counsel is now deceased.  He will not be imposing sentence  on Polanski.  Perhaps a superior court other than LA County will be appointed by CA Supreme Court to sentence Polanski if he is extradited.  That is my prediction.  

    You have (none / 0) (#46)
    by eric on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:08:53 PM EST
    more faith in the Courts than I do.  There is no way justice happens in California in this case.

    I have a lot more faith than anyone (5.00 / 2) (#48)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:09:52 PM EST
    it seems.

    Why not? (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:13:11 PM EST
    Seems celebrities have a very easy time in the courts here....

    Depends... (none / 0) (#66)
    by kdog on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:33:46 PM EST
    sometimes they get it easy, sometimes they get the book thrown at them because they are a celeb.

    Paris Hilton (none / 0) (#123)
    by eric on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:25:00 PM EST
    for example.

    OJ Simpson (murder trial) (none / 0) (#126)
    by jbindc on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:30:35 PM EST
    no (none / 0) (#16)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:45:57 AM EST
    we do not.
    but that doenst seem to be a problem for some.

    Yes (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:51:45 AM EST
    Roman's choices were either (1) show up for sentencing, knowing the Judge was going to impose an illegal sentence and a sentence other than the one he had expressly promised to impose, after Roman had relied on that promise and fulfilled his end by undergoing the 42 day psych eval at a maximum security prison, and appeal while serving the illegal sentence, or (2)leave. Appeals take time, during which time he would unfairly have been in custody. Now that the parties involved have admitted to the illegal and unethical conduct (both the judge and DA Wells are on tape acknowledging it), his guilty plea should be vacated and the case dismissed.

    Here's a possible solution: The judge that has the case now should write the order of dismissal, stating it will take effect when Polanski appears in court. Polanski should be released on bail in Switzerland and allowed to return on his own for the formal entry of the order of dismissal.


    I disagree strongly. If Mr. Polanski chooses (5.00 / 5) (#30)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:57:03 AM EST
    to move to w/d plea, that is his choice.  Exposure to very lenghty indeterminate sentence is the downside, assuming the DA's office still has the makings of a case.  They do have the grand jury testimony of the victim.  

    the grand jury testimony (5.00 / 1) (#91)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:54:58 PM EST
    was not subjected to cross-examination. Polanski and his lawyer weren't there. It's not evidence. It could be used for impeachment if the victim were to take the stand now and testify inconsistently with what she testified to then.

    A grand jury indictment is only an accusation based on probable cause. It is not proof of guilt. That's why every prosecutor's announcement of an indictment says at the bottom, words to the effect of, "An indictment is only an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent." Every jury is also instructed that an indictment is not proof of guilt, only an accusation.


    Agreed. Query: how did the the grand (5.00 / 1) (#121)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:22:07 PM EST
    jury testimony of the victim become public?

    I believe (5.00 / 1) (#127)
    by Steve M on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:36:00 PM EST
    Conde Nast magazine filed a motion to unseal it, sometime within the last decade.

    Was that in the movie?????? (5.00 / 2) (#131)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:38:26 PM EST
    I don't agree (5.00 / 10) (#57)
    by Steve M on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:19:02 PM EST
    that it has been established that the Judge had "expressly promised to impose" some other sentence and that Polanski relied on that promise in tendering his plea.  In fact, Polanski stated at the plea hearing, under oath and in open court, that he understood the judge had not decided on a sentence as yet.

    I don't see how he can argue now that he thought he had some kind of enforceable, off-the-record deal, given his sworn statement in court.


    He can argue anything he likes. (none / 0) (#71)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:39:34 PM EST
    And he does--from afar.

    it was after that (none / 0) (#85)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:51:25 PM EST
    The Judge told the lawyers after the probation report came back recommending probation and the psychiatrist found he was not a MSDO, that he was going to impose a preliminary sentence of up to 90 days for the in custody psych eval and stay it for a year in 90 day increments. Polanski agreed to this and the judge ordered the eval and stayed it for 90 days, allowing Polanski to freely travel and work. Then Wells brought him a photo of Polanski in Europe and told him the judge was "flipping him off." The Judge then demanded Polanski return. He held a hearing at which it was proven Polanski had been working when the  photo was taken. But he ordered Polanski into custody for the eval. Polanski volutarily surrendered and underwent the eval. The day before the final sentencing, the Judge said he was going to ignore the probation report and the in custody psych eval ( which also found him not to be a MDSO but the Judge declared it a "whitewash") and send him back to custody for another eval for 48 days.

    Did the PC 1203.03 evaluation (5.00 / 1) (#93)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:57:46 PM EST
    conclude Polanski was amenable to probation as opposed to state prison?  Not that anyone ever got state prison for violation of CA PC 261.5.  

    But my question is (5.00 / 1) (#96)
    by Steve M on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:59:33 PM EST
    what, then, did Polanski do "in reliance upon" the judge's promise?  

    So, if the court did not offer Polanski (none / 0) (#87)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:52:28 PM EST
    some "express promise" of a certain sentence that Polanski relied on in tendering his plea, would it be then illegal for the judge to insist Polanksi to agree to voluntary deportation?

    it would be illegal in any case (5.00 / 1) (#94)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:57:55 PM EST
    for a judge to demand someone agree to voluntary deportation. Deportation proceedings are brought by the feds. A state court judge cannot, when sentencing someone, impose a condition of voluntary deportation in the event the feds bring a deportation action.

    The state court has discretion to (5.00 / 1) (#97)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:02:54 PM EST
    reommend to the feds defendant be deported.  This information is in the change of plea transcript as an advisal.   The judge has no control over whether the feds deport a person.  

    Thanks. (none / 0) (#115)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:17:48 PM EST
    Always Amazed @Treatment Celebrities get (4.00 / 4) (#9)
    by TearDownThisWall on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:37:58 AM EST
    If he had a legit claim of judicial misconduct- why not come back and fight it?
    Oh, that's right he's a "Movie Maker" celebrity- they live by different rules.

    So silly of me...

    in some ways (4.00 / 4) (#25)
    by Turkana on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:54:20 AM EST
    it reminds me of the mcmartin outrage, in that mere contemplation of the idea of such crimes overwhelm the ability of people to think rationally. of course, that was the extreme example, and the accused, who were so publicly vilified, turned out to be completely innocent. but it's the same psychological dynamic.

    keep posting the court documents, because anyone claiming to have an informed and valid opinion must start there.

    Footnote: the second DDA assigned (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:02:18 PM EST
    to Polanski case, Gunson, appears to have been second chair for DA's office on McMartin cases.  

    Oh please. (5.00 / 4) (#180)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 04:32:47 PM EST
    in that mere contemplation of the idea of such crimes overwhelm the ability of people to think rationally

    First, it's not 'mere contemplation' - the crime actually happened.

    And just because people disagree with your opinion on what should be done doesn't make them irrational. You don't have the lock on rationality.

    Next, you'll be trotting out the 'puritanical' charge.


    Comments now closed here (3.00 / 1) (#210)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 05:47:15 PM EST
    Comments automatically close at 200.

    Right before the thread closed, someone posted the link to the state's answer to Polanski's motion to dismiss. Since the first 7 pages of it recount grand jury testimony never proven in court, which Polanski and his lawyer did not have the opportunity to cross-examine, and charges to which Polanski never pleaded guilty or admitted, I am not hosting it here. You can read the legal arguments in the answer which begin on page 7 here.

    I'll write more on this case where there are new devolopments. The self-serving sudden recanting by DA Wells is not a new development worthy of a post in my view.

    thank you (none / 0) (#2)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:18:30 AM EST
    its an eye opening documentary isnt it.

    I hope you are inspired now to watch the other excellent crime docs I mentioned in the open.

    I have always wanted to hear your opinion of the West Menphis Three case.

    one other comment on what you said (none / 0) (#3)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:23:36 AM EST
    I was 26 in 77 and did follow the case to some extent.
    which is why that doc was so surprising to me.  there is so much that the public was just never told and had no clue about.
    most (or at least a lot) of the stuff in that film I had never heard before.

    duck Jeralyn (none / 0) (#7)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:29:22 AM EST


    Polanski (none / 0) (#10)
    by bk on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:39:41 AM EST
    The D.A.'s name is Dave Wells.  He had a bust of Hitler in his office.
    Also the judge was a craven publicity hound (and very likely a jew hating jew).

    seriously (none / 0) (#13)
    by Yando on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:41:20 AM EST
      No DA in cash-strapped California  wants
    to re-try this  case. The victim herself  wants this  over.
    Add to that the recent film shows  collusion
    between Judge and Prosecutor
    that adds an element of Prosecutorial
    misconduct that  compromises  the case.
    The International conflicts   don't help much either.

    This guy won't  end  up  doing time in Calif.

    To show that all's equal and that the courts are on the level,
    And that the strings in the books ain't pulled and persuaded,
    And that even the nobles get properly handled,
    after the cops have chased after and caught 'em,
    And that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom,
    Stared at the person who killed for no reason,
    Who just happened to be feelin' that way without warnin',
    And he spoke through his cloak most deep and distinguished,
    And handed out strongly for penalty and repentance,
    William Zanzinger with a siz-month sentence.
    CHORUS: Oh, but you who philosophise disgrace and criticize all fears,
    Bury the rag deep in your face,
    For now's the time for your tears.

    Jeralyn, don't you think (none / 0) (#29)
    by Steve M on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 11:55:44 AM EST
    that the facts here regarding the judge and the DA are very similar to the facts of the recent Detroit scandal that you've blogged about?

    In that case, for those who don't recall, the judge allegedly conspired with prosecutors to knowingly permit perjured testimony from two cops, in order to avoid disclosure of a confidential informant's identity to a defendant they all believed to be guilty.

    It seems like it might be a relatively common fact pattern, where a judge and a courtroom DA who interact every day develop an inappropriately confidential relationship.  I've seen it many times in civil practice, where a judge will privately ask a lawyer he trusts, "What should I do with this case?" - even if it's the lawyer for one of the parties before him!  It's even scarier, in the criminal context, to imagine a judge who may be relatively unversed at criminal law seeking out a member of the DA's office for advice.

    Newly appointed judges who are (none / 0) (#41)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:04:17 PM EST
    very knowledgeable about civil law and procedure sometimes have nada background in criminal law and procedure.  And, yes, they frequently rely on DDAs to fill the gap.  

    Judicial system screws someone over (none / 0) (#34)
    by vicndabx on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:00:34 PM EST
    Yes, this is something to shine a light on.  However as has been noted upthread, y'all gotta choose another poster boy.  The irony of a man who apparently scared a child who in turn has been acting like a scared child is hard to lose.

    "Who 'scared' a child"? (none / 0) (#120)
    by shoephone on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:21:47 PM EST

    Don't take me too literally (none / 0) (#134)
    by vicndabx on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:46:43 PM EST
    was trying to make a point.  Understand he's accused of statutory rape.

    Not accused (5.00 / 1) (#203)
    by MO Blue on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 05:13:03 PM EST
    Polanski leaded guilty to CA's equivalent of statutory rape (CA does not call it that).

    A perspective on the flight aspect. (none / 0) (#45)
    by KeysDan on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:08:48 PM EST
    If an American citizen found himself in a serious criminal jam in a foreign country, say Turkey in 1977, was represented by competent Turkish defense lawyers, contributed to the economic betterment of the victim, and accepted a plea bargain that included psychiatric evaluation in confinement, only to find that the political landscape for the Turkish judge turned and  placed the agreement in a wobbly state, including uncertain new conditions worked up between a different prosecutor and the judge along with  efforts for the American to "deport" himself, it would not be beyond comprehension for that citizen to flee from Turkish jurisdiction and return home if possible.  Sort of a Midnight Express scenario. The Billy Hayes novel (1977) and film based on it (1978) tells his story (certainly not a comparable crime- smuggling hashish, but serious for Turkey) and his treatment although much later Hayes recanted some of the prison horrors. But, that was, as stated, much later.

    In your hypothetical, does the American (5.00 / 1) (#88)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 12:52:37 PM EST
    who fled the jurisdiction of the sentencing court must later file a motion to dismiss the charges?  

    Since (none / 0) (#125)
    by CoralGables on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 01:29:07 PM EST
    Mr. Polanski has already unofficially voluntarily deported himself, is anyone bothered that we will be spending millions to bring someone back, when by his own plea deal, or following the original judges opinion at the time, will go back home with time served? By the time he gets back to the court, he will have served more time than was ever planned for him?

    The only thing that could come of all this fuss, is that Mr. Polanski will probably again be free to travel in the US, the government will waste a lot of money, and we will have wasted a lot of time arguing over it.

    He isn't a U.S. citizen and I doubt (5.00 / 1) (#155)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:59:03 PM EST
    he'll be getting a visa or green card anytime soon, given he has a felony conviction on his record and is likely to get another for the FTA.  But, yes, it isn't pass the cost/benefit analysis to return him to LA.  

    The Fleecing of Roman Polanski (none / 0) (#153)
    by Wil Burns on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:49:11 PM EST
     If Roman Polanski get off, so should all the pedophile Catholic priests!