Lawyers for film director Roman Polanski, a fugitive in France for 30 years in a notorious California sex case, filed a request Tuesday to dismiss the charge against him due to prosecutorial and judicial misconduct.
The motion alleges that a documentary film about Polanski released earlier this year revealed “a pattern of misconduct and improper communications” between the district attorney’s office and the judge in Polanski’s case.
“This case serves as a classic example of how our justice system can be abused, and defendants’ rights trampled, by an unholy alliance between courts and criminal prosecutors,” said a statement from attorneys Chad Hummel and Brad Dalton. Dalton is the son of attorney Doug Dalton, who represented Polanski in the original case.
He was initially indicted on six felony counts and faced up to life in prison. Instead, he pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and five other counts were dismissed.
Polanski, who had already been incarcerated for a psychological diagnosis, skipped sentencing that would have sent him back to prison and fled to France. The judge issued a warrant for his arrest that is still in effect. The maximum sentence was 50 years, although prosecutors had said at the time that the typical sentence was 16 months to three years in prison.
Polanski, famed as the director of “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” has continued to direct films while in exile, including the Holocaust drama “The Pianist,” for which he won an Oscar in 2003.
Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for District Attorney Steve Cooley, said her office had not been served with the motion and only heard about it through media reports. She said the office could not take a position until they see the legal papers.
“We’re looking forward to seeing Mr. Polanski in Los Angeles to litigate it,” she said.
A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Jan. 21 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The woman with whom Polanski admitted having sexual intercourse has said she wants the charge dropped and that Polanski should be allowed to return to the United States.
The new effort to wipe out the charge comes in the wake of an HBO documentary, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” in which the man who prosecuted Polanski, retired Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson, said that if he had been in Polanski’s position, he also would have fled the country.
The documentary also portrayed the late Superior Court Judge Laurence J. Rittenband as a publicity hound who held press conferences and engaged in extra-judicial meetings about the case.
The case was a sensation when it broke. Polanski, the widower of slain actress Sharon Tate whose personal life had made tabloid headlines for years, was arrested for having sex with the girl he hired as a model for a photo shoot. He was accused of giving her Quaaludes, taking her into a hot tub nude and having sex with her.
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