Roman Polanski Files New Appeal, More Misconduct Allegations

Lawyers for Roman Polanski filed a new appeal in the California Appeals Court today. It cites previously undisclosed sealed transcripts of improper communications between the Judge and prosecutors.

The 68-page petition asks the California Court of Appeals for the Second District, in Los Angeles, to act on an emergency basis. It argues, among other things, that the court should free Mr. Polanski by imposing a sentence for time served, or at least make the sealed testimony alleging wrongdoing available to Swiss authorities.


The details:

The newly disclosed dealings involved Judge Rittenband and both Stephen S. Trott, who was the chief deputy of the Los Angeles district attorney’s office, and Michael J. Montagna, a supervising deputy, according to testimony described in the petition.

One or both of the prosecutors met in the summer of 1977 with Judge Rittenband, who is now deceased, after Mr. Gunson told them he intended to file an application to disqualify the judge because of misconduct, according to the petition’s account. The pair later told Mr. Gunson that the judge had “admitted all of the alleged misconduct,” according to the petition, but they denied Mr. Gunson permission to file the disqualification motion.

Trott is now a federal judge:

Stephen Trott, who is now a senior judge with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth District, declined to comment. “I’m staying out of that completely,” he said.

The Swiss have not acted on the extradition request -- they want California to determine how much time Polanski has left to serve if he is returned.

Lawyers for Mr. Polanski have argued that he should not be extradited, because Judge Rittenband had promised — as Mr. Gunson affirmed in his sealed testimony — to sentence him to no more than 90 days in jail, and an extradition treaty between the United States and Switzerland applies only to long sentences.

More on that here.

This is such a waste of California's judicial and prosecutorial resources. Dismiss the case already. Free Roman.

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  • Display: Sort:
    a commenthas been deleted for inclusion of (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 01:13:20 AM EST
    explicit terms, not allowed by the site or software censors at law firms. It also misstated what he pleaded guilty to and contained personal attacks on Polanski.

    have I ever said (none / 0) (#18)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 08:59:36 AM EST
    how proud I am of you for your coverage of this story?

    J: "Court of Appeal." (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:00:26 PM EST

    thanks, fixed (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:17:35 PM EST
    Why does Mr. Polanski not waive (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:16:43 PM EST
    extradition and agree to appear in L.A. County Superior Court for sentencing?

    because the judge is being unreasonable (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:18:18 PM EST
    in not allowing him to be sentenced in absentia, as the Appeals court said could be done. He's abusing his discretion.

    Its so illogical though (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 12:57:51 PM EST
    what good faith basis does the judge for believing that Polanski would actually return once sentence is passed?

    Well, all deals are off if the trial judge (none / 0) (#26)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 06:46:12 PM EST
    imposes additional time in custody.

    Although, as I recall the Court of Appeal (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:21:11 PM EST
    did not determine the trial judge abused his discretion.  I think Polanski's attorneys are beating their heads against a wall.  

    In Any Case (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:25:04 PM EST
    I doubt the swiss will extradite him at this point.

    right, I said the appeals court (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:34:31 PM EST
    said it could be done and I say the judge refusing to do so is an abuse of  his discretion -- which doesn't warrant Polanski giving in and returning for sentencing. Your question was why doesn't Polanski come back, and I'm answering for him: Why should he come back when the judge is being unreasonable?

    So he can avoid endless confinement to (none / 0) (#10)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:50:53 PM EST
    his home and its grounds in Gstaad?

    I wonder if the Swiss (none / 0) (#17)
    by Zorba on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 06:38:04 AM EST
    will eventually get tired of this themselves and say to the United States/State of California:  "The heck with you.  If you can't get your act together and let us know the sentence, we're letting him go free."  Although, perhaps that would be against the terms of whatever treaty applies to extradition.

    I wonder if Swiss trial courts customarily (none / 0) (#19)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:36:25 AM EST
    publicize the intended sentence prior to imposing it?  

    Don't know (none / 0) (#22)
    by Zorba on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:34:34 AM EST
    Do we have anyone here conversant in Swiss law?  Of course, this case is a bit different from most because of Polanski fleeing after a guilty plea but before final sentencing, and also because the Appeals Court said that Polanski could be sentenced in absentia, which has not (as yet) been done.  I wonder if the Swiss have ever before confronted a case quite like this.  Fugitives, probably, but not with all the other legal complications of this case.

    I expect the Swiss authorities are (none / 0) (#23)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:52:19 AM EST
    scratching their heads.  Why doesn't this fellow just give it up?

    Huh? (none / 0) (#27)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 08:02:03 PM EST
    Sounds like a biiiiig projection on your part.

    And in a new twist to his long legal saga, the Swiss Justice Ministry declared it would make "no sense" to shift Polanski from house arrest at his Alpine chalet until U.S. courts ruled definitively that he must be sentenced in person to further jail time for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.

    "When the question is still open, why should he be extradited?" Rudolf Wyss, the ministry's deputy director, told The Associated Press. "As long as the question is still open, our decision depends on that."

    "Even if we decide on extradition, he can still appeal. This would take many months," Wyss added.


    The Swiss authorities appear to adhere to the rule of law, unlike the LA Superior Court, which appears arbitrary and flippant, imo.


    I just thought Mr. Polanski might be (none / 0) (#28)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 08:20:19 PM EST
    getting cabin fever by now.  Guess not.

    Cabin Fever? (none / 0) (#29)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:38:27 PM EST
    I think that it is rather obvious to the Swiss and Polanski, that he is more likely to get a bigger dose of cabin fever upon his return to the US, then he ever would in his Swiss chalet.

    No coin toss needed, imo.  


    L.A. Times: (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:29:13 PM EST

    Last month, Polanski's legal battle to avoid returning to the U.S. got a boost when a Swiss official said extradition proceedings stemming from his three-decade-old child sex case were on indefinite hold.

    The Swiss Justice Ministry's deputy director said authorities would not make any decision on Polanski's case until courts in California made a definitive ruling on whether the director could be sentenced without returning to the U.S. The issue is not pending before any California court, but Polanski's lawyers have said they will appeal a lower court judge's refusal earlier this year to sentence him in absentia.

    Yeah (none / 0) (#9)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:36:45 PM EST
    The LA Times does not like Polanski. They want to see him fry.

    What might be the basis for your comment? (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:51:20 PM EST
    I agree about the Times (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 01:14:59 AM EST
    particularly with some articles by Harriet Ryan. Her choice of words doesn't always fit the facts, which may be because she's not a lawyer, but she isn't always accurate and it comes off seeming slanted against him.

    LAT has never, to my knowledge, (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:39:03 AM EST
    advocated freeing Roman.  Their reporting on the status of the case, IMO, has been more accurate than many other sources.  Certainly not perfect.

    Yeah (none / 0) (#24)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 12:04:20 PM EST
    Because you share their rather obvious viewpoint. They are not reporting the events, they are producing a constant string of editorials, imo.

    Readers love it, as your example shows.  


    History (none / 0) (#16)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 02:20:16 AM EST
    I have been following the Polanski case closely and the LA Times always seems to sound unnecessarily incendiary, to me.

    Also, is it really a good idea for (none / 0) (#12)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 11:12:00 PM EST
    Polanski's counsel to try and sully the excellent reputation of Judge Trott?  He is a former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.  Appointed by Pres. Reagan to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  

    So because he was a former federal prosecutor (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 01:19:22 AM EST
    he's exempt from criticism as being beyond reproach? Wouldn't that also apply to Jay Bybee, torture memo writer when he was with DOJ before becoming a federal judge? Or the Ted Stevens prosecutors?

    Also, a lawyer's obligation is to his client. If Polanski's lawyers have evidence there was misconduct, they are duty bound to present it.


    Not because he is a former prosecutor. (none / 0) (#21)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:41:04 AM EST
    Because he is a sitting Judge on the Ninth Circuit.  How will the Court of Appeal judges react to these allegations against their colleague?