Polanski lawyers accuse prosecutors of misconduct
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The seemingly endless quest by Los Angeles authorities to extradite film director Roman Polanski has taken a new twist with the 81-year-old director renewing his fight to be free of his prosecutors.
Polanski, who has been fighting this battle for nearly four decades, took action this week through a new legal team headed by high-profile lawyer Alan Dershowitz. He accuses U.S. and Los Angeles authorities of lying to Polish officials in an effort to extradite him from that country and says a judge secretly planned to put him behind bars if he voluntarily returned to California.
A representative of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said she would have no comment on her office's latest efforts to bring Polanski to California to face judgment in a 38-year-old rape case.
Dershowitz's voicemail was full and a message could not be left for him.
In a 1977 deal, the Oscar-winning director pleaded guilty to one count of statutory rape for having sex with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot in Los Angeles.
Judge Laurence J. Rittenband then ordered Polanski to undergo a psychiatric study at the state prison in Chino, where he served 42 days.
The prosecutor and Polanski's attorney have said they understood from a private conversation with Rittenband that the time in prison would serve as Polanski's punishment. But they said the judge later reneged on the agreement and suggested Polanski would go back to prison, and the Polish-born director fled to France.
Since then, he has been an international fugitive with Los Angeles prosecutors always on his heels. They have prodded the U.S. Justice Department to continue the so-far futile quest for his return.
In 2009, when Polanski was accepting an award in Switzerland, where he maintains a home, he was arrested and wound up serving 290 days, first in jail and then under house arrest, before Swiss authorities rejected the U.S. request to extradite him and declared he could come there anytime he wanted.
But the Los Angeles authorities have not given up, and they continue to dog Polanski whenever he travels.
In October, another confrontation occurred in Poland when Polanski, 81, attended the opening of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw before traveling to Krakow, his childhood city. Polish authorities questioned him there because of the U.S. request but refused to arrest him.
An adviser to the Polish president accused U.S. authorities of "absolute ignorance" in seeking the arrest of the filmmaker who is a Holocaust survivor, made his early films in Poland and is admired as a representative of Polish culture.
The failed effort in Poland opened the door for a new legal strategy. Polanski's legal team filed court papers Monday that allege district attorneys and judges carried out "serious misconduct" in the decades-long effort to prosecute the filmmaker and force him to return to the United States.
The new 133-page motion seeks an evidentiary hearing to determine whether "pervasive" misconduct and a "false" extradition request sent this year by the Justice Department to the Polish government requires the case against Polanski to be dismissed.
Polanski's attorneys say the latest extradition request omitted that the director had served 42 days of court-ordered prison time in 1977.
"The DA's deliberate omission in its letter was plainly calculated to deceive the Polish government into believing that Polanski is "extraditable" under the extradition treaty between the United States and Poland, when, in fact, he is not," the filing said.
Polanski's life as a fugitive from America began eight years after his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered in Los Angeles along with six others by the notorious Charles Manson cult.
Polanski won an Academy Award for best director for his 2002 film "The Pianist" and was nominated for 1974's "Chinatown" and 1979's "Tess."