If California Gov. Jerry Brown had a lick of common sense, he’d pardon Roman Polanski and end a wrong-headed and probably illegal campaign by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office to drag the world famous director back to the U.S. to “serve out” a prison sentence that he had already completely 39 years ago.
Yet even the American press, which covered the case extensively at the time, fail to note that Polanski’s time at a California state prison was the sentence agreed to by all parties in the case: Polanski, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, the young woman on whom Polanski committed statutory rape, her family, and the corrupt judge who presided over the case, Laurence J. Rittenband, whose best friend was one of the country’s most powerful gangsters.
We know about the case firsthand, covering every court session and interviewing the key legal figures in depth as a reporter for the Santa Monica Evening Outlook. And we have posted extensively about the case and the corruption at the heart of the ongoing extradition efforts.
A few years ago we even played a major role in a documentary film about the case, Roman Polanski, Wanted and Desired.
The woman at the center of the case has repeatedly called for the Los Angeles District Attorney to stop the extradition efforts and leave Polanski alone, and the deputy district attorney who prosecuted Polanski has stated for the record that the director fulfilled all the obligations imposed by the plea agreement.’
But the DA’s won’t given up, even though Rittenband demonstrably breached the canons of judicial ethics by discussing the case with reporters [us most notably, and with pals from the Hillcrest Country Club, once he began to have second thoughts after drawing criticism from the spouses of those Hillcrest pals].
We have no idea how many hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars have been wasted on the DA’s office, fueled in part by frankly erroneous reports from newspaper like the Washington Post, which ought to know better.
The Swiss rejected a prolonged attempt to extradite Polanski from their country, declaring, as the Guardian reported at the time, that:
[I]ts decision to reject extradition for Polanski was based in part on US authorities’ failure to provide transcripts of secret testimony given by the attorney who originally handled the director’s case [Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson, one of the most honorable people we have ever met — esnl]. The testimony “should prove” that Polanski actually served his sentence while undergoing a court-ordered diagnostic study after charges were filed, the Swiss justice ministry said.
“If this were the case, Roman Polanski would actually have already served his sentence and therefore both the proceedings on which the US extradition request is founded and the request itself would have no foundation,” the ministry said. They also noted that Polanski’s victim, Samantha Geimer, has repeatedly asked that the case be dropped.
But that decision came only after Polanski had been jailed, then subjected to nine months’ house arrest.
And now a second effort by the L.A. District Attorney has been conclusively overturned by yet another European government.
A Polish court’s decision to deny the extradition of film-maker Roman Polanski to the United States over a 1977 child sex conviction became legally binding on Friday after an appellate prosecutor’s office said it found no justification to appeal it.
The case of the Oscar-winning director, now 82, who holds Polish and French citizenship, has been an international cause celebre nearly four decades after the crime, with some demanding harsh punishment and others urging the case be let go.
“Speaking for Polanski, I can say that we feel a great relief that this case has ended,” Jan Olszewski, one of Polanski’s lawyers said. “And this means that it will be possible for Polanski to start making a planned film in Poland.”
The appellate prosecutor’s office in the city of Krakow said in a statement on Friday that its analysis of the evidence collected in the case showed the earlier court decision on denying extradition had been correct.
So get on with it, Jerry Brown, issue a pardon and spend the state’s money on more worthy causes, like building housing for the poor.