Roman Polanski's lawyers have filed a last legal volley in a California appeals court, saying that the 33-year-old sex case and its lengthy delays have been an assault on the state's judicial system.
The attorneys said in papers filed Tuesday that the court should order an investigation of judicial misconduct in Polanski's original case and that the Oscar-winning filmmaker should not have to pay for it — an indication that he is running out of funds.
Polanski was arrested six months ago on a fugitive warrant from Los Angeles and is under house arrest in Switzerland. The 76-year-old has mounting debts and no way to earn a living while in custody, his attorneys said.
The defense made their latest plea in response to arguments from prosecutors who say Polanski must return from Europe to face sentencing. The defense argued that the director should be sentenced in absentia to time served. The papers were filed in the California 2nd District Court of Appeal.
"It is unjust for a defendant's constitutional rights to be held hostage to the district attorney's office's outright refusal to investigate the misconduct in which it was involved," said the defense brief.
Most of the 24-page filing was a recitation of facts that have been raised repeatedly by the defense since they first went to court seeking Polanski's freedom. They contend the now deceased judge committed misconduct in the case.
Polanski, the director "The Pianist" and "Chinatown," fled the U.S. in 1978 after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.
He had served part of a 90-day period in prison ordered by the judge for a "diagnostic study." His departure was prompted by the judge's private statements that he planned to renege on the agreement that the study would be Polanski's full sentence, according to documents filed in the case.
The original prosecutor in the case recently gave closed door testimony to that effect, the lawyers have said.
Defense lawyers Chad Hummel and Bart Dalton said that the misconduct allegations should not be buried just because the trial judge is dead and some participants are no longer in the district attorney's office.
"The lapse of time...does not make the misconduct or its consequences go away or mean that they are not deserving of full exploration," they said, suggesting an investigation by a special counsel could deter similar misconduct in the future.
"This court should put a stop to this now," the attorneys said, "by recommending that special counsel be appointed and by ordering that Polanski be sentenced to time served..."
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