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The Politics of the Polanski Decision

Los Angeles prosecutors are furious with the Swiss. The State and Justice departments are bound to put extradition pressure on other countries with extradition treaties. But Roman Polanski is free, and unless he ventures off in some ill-advised travels, he’s likely to remain that way.

The decision is a blow to District Attorney Steve Cooley, but it is far from the type of decision that will resonate in his race for attorney general. Polanski had charged that he was being used as an example whereby Cooley could garner extra publicity, but in truth, it never really became a factor in the race. Now, with it unlikely that Polanski ever will return to the United States, there will be no high profile proceedings whereby he would be put on trial for fleeing the country. With it also would have been a trial of the system as well, with Polanski’s lawyers presenting evidence of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct. The outcome was far from predictable.

Instead, Cooley can now blame the Swiss. In the wake of their decision, he has promised to extradite Polanski whenever possible — a muscular statement even if it is doubtful that such an opportunity ever will come up again.

Here’s my story on the latest developments in the Polanski case.

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