Judge Rejects Roman Polanski’s Bid To Avoid Jail Time

Director handed big legal setback in his efforts to return to the United States

Last Updated: April 3, 2017 @ 4:49 PM

Roman Polanski has been handed a big legal setback in his ongoing effort to return to the United States without serving jail time.

A judge has shot down the filmmaker’s motions and requests following a March 20 hearing, the public information office of Los Angeles Superior Court said on Monday.

“Judge Scott Gordon has issued his ruling in the matter of the People v. Roman Polanski following the hearing on March 20, 2017. Judge Gordon has ruled that Defendant’s motions and corresponding requests are denied,” a media advisory from the court noted.

Those requests include a February request sent by Polanski to a judge, which would have allowed Polanski to return to the United States without serving any additional jail time.

The Best Director Oscar-winner (“The Pianist”) was indicted in 1977 on five charges, including “rape by use of drugs” and “furnishing a controlled substance to a minor,” after having sex with 13-year-old girl who had been brought over to his house for a photo shoot.

Polanski later reached a deal, pleading guilty to the lesser charge of “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.” As a condition of the deal, he was required to serve 90 days in state prison while undergoing psychiatric evaluation. He was released after only 42 days, but soon after fled the United States when it emerged that the presiding judge was considering a stiffer penalty.

Polanski says the judge, Judge Laurence Rittenband, reneged on the plea deal and insisted he serve up to 50 years in jail after the agreement was signed. Rittenband, who died in 1993, consistently denied these accusations.

In March, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey filed blistering court papers, denouncing Roman Polanski‘s bid to avoid additional jail time if he returns to the U.S.

“The People oppose the defendant’s request for this court to represent what the defendant would be sentenced to if he returned,” Lacey wrote in the opposition, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. “Once again, defendant is requesting an advance preview of the hearing he would get if he did come to court before deciding whether or not to return to this jurisdiction.”

Judge Gordon’s order on Monday called Polanski’s motion to avoid further jail time “deficient in several respects,” not least of all because it wasn’t “accompanied by a memorandum of points and authorities.”

“In this matter, this omission is more than failure to adhere to proper legal form. There is no authority presented by Defendant to support the order for the requested relief. The People have unambiguously stated their desire to avoid discussing any substantive issues regarding Polanski’s case until he is physically present in the court’s jurisdiction,” Gordon noted. “The District Attorney is acting well within her discretion to decline to state a position to a defendant absent from court and in warrant status. Without any cited authority, there is no provision for the court to order the request relief. Additionally, Polanski is not entitled to avail himself of this court’s power to hear his demands while he openly stands in contempt of a legal order from this very court.”

“Defendant, through counsel, filed the current motions which are similar to previously filed motions, and are based upon the same factual and legal arguments previously presented to the court and denied by other judges. Moreover, counsel for Defendant has not presented sufficient credible, admissible evidence or legal arguments to warrant the requested relief,” Judge Gordon concluded. “Defendant’s motions and corresponding requests are therefore DENIED.”

TheWrap has reached out to Polanski’s attorney for comment on Monday’s development.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.


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