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Polanski Lawyer Says Client Will Face Only One Charge If He Returns to LA


“Fundamental fairness and justice in our criminal justice system are far more important than the conviction and sentence of any one individual.” – California Court of Appeal, Polanski v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, 12/21/09

Demonstrating the same lack of self-esteem as prisoners who beat up child molesters, noisy segments of the American population continue to hyperventilate over Roman Polanski as if the sexual abuse of minors were not already sufficiently condemned by our society.

Among those who believe there is compelling evidence Polanski committed the various offenses (such as rape, sodomy and furnishing a minor with drugs) he was initially charged with, few express criticism of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for its decision not to prosecute the defendant for those alleged crimes. Instead, the mob irrationally directs its wrath almost exclusively at Polanski, even though he has no control over what DA Steve Cooley does. But no matter how terrible a person he might be, it is not Polanski’s fault he can’t be punished for what Cooley and his predecessors have chosen not to pursue.

The offense for which Polanski’s extradition from Switzerland is sought is barely considered a crime in Europe, where the age of consent is as low as 13. Polanski’s French attorney, Georges Kiejman, told me: “I can confirm that the request of taking him into preventive custody only concerns the charge of unlawful sexual intercourse.” That’s a key point, because the extradition treaty between Switzerland and the United States stipulates “a person who has been extradited shall not be detained, proceeded against, or sentenced for any offense committed prior to surrender other than that for which extradition has been granted…unless…the competent authorities of Switzerland consent.”

Therefore, Polanski is not likely to be charged for having fled 32 years ago when he became alarmed by apparent judicial misconduct now accepted as virtual fact. However, if Polanski returns to the United States, 45 days after he becomes a free man here, the treaty would no longer bar American authorities from prosecuting the filmmaker for any chargeable offense he might have committed before (or after) his extradition.

If Polanski could be nailed for nothing else, would Cooley actually try to hold Polanski accountable for the defendant’s 1977 failure to appear (punishable by a year in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both)? That’s hard to predict, as the DA has recently refused to comment on the case after he foolishly boasted to a Slate.com reporter, “The plea is airtight.” Soon thereafter, Cooley was informed the plea could actually be withdrawn since Polanski apparently didn’t understand the potential consequences of pleading guilty when he did so. As I previously reported, Polanski testified that he believed the maximum sentence he faced was 20 years, even though it was really 50, and nobody corrected him at any point in the plea hearing.

Just a few months ago, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, in United States of America v. Edward L. Gray, ruled in favor of Gray, who argued his guilty plea should be withdrawn because a lower court had failed to inform him what punishment he was facing.

Peter Espinoza, the judge who is currently handling the Polanski case, has the authority to withdraw the Court’s approval of the defendant’s guilty plea whether or not Polanski requests or even wants him to do so. Which is not to say a plea withdrawal wouldn’t benefit Polanski. It would, and it would be a huge setback for Cooley, because it would leave the DA with only two options – drop the case altogether, or get busy preparing for a trial – neither of which would expose Polanski to any punishment beyond the sentence he might now receive as a result of his guilty plea.

Regardless of how one feels about Polanski or his confessed/alleged crimes, guilt or innocence should be determined by actual evidence, not mere perception. Despite Samantha Geimer’s grand jury testimony, Polanski denies he committed any crime except unlawful sexual intercourse, and the public isn’t privy to enough information to decide whose story should be believed. Neither the medical report nor eyewitnesses indicate forcible sex occurred, and it’s not insensitive or unfair to recognize that victims and alleged victims sometimes lie, misremember or miscommunicate.

Just because a lot of pathetic people need to dwell on the director’s supposed indecency to make themselves feel decent in comparison, doesn’t mean that normal evidentiary standards should be abandoned in the Polanski matter. Unlike certain judges and prosecutors, Polanski nowadays poses no threat to anybody.

Jeff Norman is the Director of The Veterans Project, a non-profit group that promotes and supports organizations that help veterans – primarily those who fought in Iraq and/or Afghanistan – reintegrate into society when they come home. Its mission is to help remove the stigma associated with post-traumatic stress, and to raise operating funds for organizations providing psychological care and job training to veterans in the aftermath of war. He blogs at Citizen Jeff. He can be reached at jeff@citizenjeff.com.

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10 Responses for “Polanski Lawyer Says Client Will Face Only One Charge If He Returns to LA”

  1. Arne Paul says:

    Bravo! Best news article on the Polanski witch hunt! Well done!

  2. andy jay says:

    No, Mr. Norman, the age of consent in Germany is 16, and has been, only in traditionally misogynist countries like Spain and Greece is it at 13.
    I do not know about the US legal system, and the quarrel you have with the DA, sorry.
    But I think you could have the decency and allow for the version of Ms. Geimer being true. Everyone can lie, that includes the defendant in a rape case.

  3. mrcleanisin says:

    Run and keep on running Polanski! I spent 10 years in prison and 5 years in a mental institution for “consensual sex” with a 14 year old female in the US. Ten years in prison for the crime and 5 years in a mental institution for saying “the age of consent was 14 and I committed no crime.” The US treats “consensual sex with minors” far worse than rape, murder, and selling drugs, so Mr. Norman just remember that. Also, if you wanted to make a point about the age of consent you should have referenced the US borders (Mexico and Canada) where the age of consent was/is 12 and 14 (now 16 in Canada). Mr. Andy, don’t forget Elvis brought a 13 year old from Germany to the US and kept her hidden until she was a little older. Having sexual attraction to a girl less than 13 is pedophilia, so Polanski was cutting it close. Maybe the girl was physically mature enough to pass for teenophilia.

  4. andy jay says:

    I’m afraid I’m not familiar with Elvis’ doings anymore than US law. 10 years for consensual sex seems a bit wild to me. I was just refering to what is considered a crime: that’s something that breaks a certain law, and in Europe (I can only speak for Germany actually) having sex with a person under 16 is a crime if you are the responsible adults around that kid (like a babysitter for instance, or teacher, or whatever brings that kid into your care). I personally do not talk “pedophilia” where Mr. Polanski is concerned – it’s more about sexually abusing someone who’s dependant on you for some reason (sorry, I do not have the legal terms). And I don’t care for jail terms, I just do not accept that you call what happened just an “indecency”, and insinuating in Europe we don’t care what happens to minors.
    And: Consense cannot be proven either. And: Sorry, but I’m a woman, and I do react emotionally to every try to belittle sexual transgression, specially by a powerful adult towards a very young person (boy or girl).

  5. atomikseasnark says:

    A very well-reasoned piece. I agree it would be helpful if even a fraction of the fury directed at Polanski were directed at the atrocities of the US system of ‘justice’–which is verbal trial by combat with ‘gotchas’ for evidence, etc, overwhelmingly carried out by elected officials pandering to the public and hustling for votes and contributions–a world-class disgrace for a ‘developed’ nation. In my mind Polanski is likely guilty of a moral atrocity, but legally this thing is a horrific mess, and that’s the fault of the justice system and US political culture.

  6. stevelaudig says:

    The judicial misconduct, facilitated by the prosecution warrants dismissal of the charges against the Defendant. When the system is corrupt no decision of the judge is reliable. the judge in this case was a political creep determined to script the movie of Polanski’s trial.

  7. Kelley Lynch says:

    See also Bill Pavelic’s allegations that he, Dr. Henry Lee, and Dr. Michael Baden were set up by LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Unit in retaliation for the OJ trial. Dr. Lee, Dr. Baden, Dr. Spitz, Dr. Pex, and Dr. DeMaio all concluded that Lana Clarkson shot herself. Five of the greatest forensic scientists would not take the stand and lie. Steve Cooley, however, would use this opportunity to nail a celebrity in his bid for Attorney General.


    An Open Letter From Phil Spector To A Good Friend.

    Sunday July 26th


    I had no voice the day I was sentenced in court on May 30th 2009 due to throat papalomas I had removed 3-days earlier on the 27th.of May. It left me with no voice. I was indeed very upset because when I was asked to address the court, I could not speak for I had no voice. What I wanted to say follows: Be it known that I, Phillip Spector had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the death of Lana Clarkson. And irrefutable science and five of the greatest, most famous forensic scientists all swore under oath that Ms. Clarkson died of a self inflicted gun shot wound, a suicide. They swore by irrefutable science. And while juries and judges lie and make mistakes, science and DNA do not. When their scientific findings and words were ignored is a mystery to me, and hopefully will not be ignored by the appellate court. And I shall return.

    But let it also be known that there IS a murderer in the court room and it is NOT Phil Spector, it is Alan Jackson. During the trial he murdered the truth, ,he murdered the constitution, he murdered the law, and he murdered my reputation, and he should not go unpunished for his dastardly deeds. He used his five little “groupies” women, one of whom recently overdosed and died from drugs, and could not be here to testify to slander and lie about me, and victimize me so that he could get his conviction without any scientific proof whatsoever. That’s because he had none. He lied and cheated and double crossed that before along with his cohort Truc Doe whenever they got to it, yes my friends, HE is the real murderer. But, what goes around comes around. And the appellate court will see through his chicanery and smoke and mirrors, and false law and overturn my conviction, and then I will be back stronger than ever, a free man as I should be. Until then, POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

    Steven, I would like this published verbatim from the beginning of this letter to the end. And tell Chris Paven to also put it on my website.


  8. Novalis Lore says:

    The age of consent in Germany was always 14 – not 16.

    Read this to get the full gist on the case.


  9. Richard Sinnott says:

    Great perspective by Jeff Norman!

    Americans are so petty, and I think it comes from our Judeo Christian heritage.

    There is a chance that justice will prevail.

  10. Novalis Lore says:

    Actually, Richard, it comes from the Puritan settlers having come from Europe, who colonised the early States. So let’s hope there will be final justice. But I doubt it.

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