January 22, Los Angeles, CA
A state court judge here rejected the director Roman Polanski’s request to be sentenced while he remains under arrest in Switzerland, setting the stage for a renewed legal battle over his extradition to face sentencing on a 32-year-old sex charge.
At a hearing on Friday, the judge, Peter Espinoza of Los Angeles Superior Court, declined to reverse his earlier insistence that Mr. Polanski — who in 1978 fled before sentencing after pleading guilty to having sex with a minor — should return to the United States before being allowed any resolution of his case.
Judge Espinoza said he was not bound by a California Appeals Court suggestion last month that Mr. Polanski could be sentenced in absentia.
“I choose to insist” that Mr. Polanski appear, the judge said.
After the hearing, Bart Dalton, a lawyer for Mr. Polanski, said, “We will seek our remedies in the court of appeal.”
I’d rather not inflame this case,” Judge Espinoza said in rebuking David Walgren, a deputy district attorney, for one rhetorical flourish in which Mr. Walgren had referred to Mr. Polanski as “this fugitive,” “this criminal” and “this child rapist.”
Mr. Polanski, in fact, was never tried for rape, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge under an agreement with prosecutors.
Chad S. Hummel, a lawyer for Mr. Polanski, accused Mr. Walgren of misleading Swiss authorities by leaving crucial information out of an extradition packet sent to them. Mr. Walgren, in turn, charged Mr. Hummel with having stalled justice by returning to the court repeatedly with arguments it had already rejected.
Lawrence Silver, who represents Ms. Geimer, admonished the judge that officers of the court were obligated by a new victims’ rights provision in the California Constitution to honor her request for an examination of official corruption in the case. The judge said he did not “believe anyone anticipated” the victims’ rights provision, called Marcy’s Law, would be used in support of a defendant like Mr. Polanski, and turned down the request.
One more point of intrigue, once the sentencing is complete will Mr. Polanski be subject to the sex offender registry, also known as Megan's Law. Unlike most states, California has had a sex offender registry since the late 1940's.
At the end of the day, it will not surprise me if Mr. Polanski's ultimate sentence will be one of "Time Considered Served, Time Actually Served" since he's been in custody (yes, house arrest counts as a period of imprisonment)since last fall.