Lawyers cite judicial misconduct by courts

Roman Polanski’s lawyers want his case moved out of L.A.

On Monday, attorney Chad Hummel filed two documents with the Los Angeles Superior Court outlining all the reasons why that court should be disqualified from weighing the director’s decades-old case. A hearing on Polanski’s early December request to have the sexual misconduct case dismissed had been set for Jan. 21.

Polanski fled the United States more than 30 years ago on the eve of sentencing, convinced he would not get a fair shake from Judge Lawrence Rittenband, and has lived in European exile ever since. His fugitive status is central to the latest request.

Hummel said that court expressed a “predetermination” on the issue when it indicated that Polanski would have to appear at the hearing. He cited a Dec. 3 L.A. Times story in which a court spokesman said that it had been the court’s position “consistently for several years” that the “Chinatown” director must personally appear in order to seek dismissal or sentencing.

Hummel challenged that assertion, arguing that it was news to Polanski’s legal team, which also includes Doug Dalton, the now retired attorney who originally pursued the “Chinatown” director’s defense, and his son Bart.

Polanski was indicted in 1977 on several charges related to his sexual relations with a 13-year-old girl, including rape and sodomy. He pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct and fled after undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

There have been repeated efforts since then to clear the case and enable Polanski to return to the U.S. and make films in Hollywood. The latest legal maneuverings are fallout from the HBO docu, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.”

His attorneys cited footage in the docu as evidence of judicial misconduct in their December request for dismissal (Daily Variety, Dec. 3). In the docu, Deputy District Attorney David Wells admits discussing the case with Rittenband during legal proceedings from the 1970s.

Polanski, who won an Oscar for “The Pianist” several years ago, is now working on a film called “The Ghost.” He does not appear eager to return to the U.S., although he would like to have his name cleared.

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