Roman Polanski Arrested in Switzerland

230px-polanskiiffkvWhile justice delayed may be justice denied, but justice appears to have caught up with Roman Polanski — just 31 years delayed. To the surprise of his family and lawyers, Swiss authorities arrested the seventy-six-year-old famous director on the outstanding international warrant.

Polanski was able to move freely in Europe for decades despite being one of the world’s best recognized fugitives.

He was detained when he arrived at Zurich airport and was being held in provisional detention in preparation for a possible extradition to the United States.

He has been avoiding arrest after his conviction in California for sex with a 13-year-old girl, Samantha Geime, at the home of Jack Nicholson. She claimed to have been drugged. She has since said that she forgives him.

Polanski fled before sentencing and relied on his fame and friends to continue his artistic work and opulent lifestyle.

Polanski’s lawyers have been trying to get the case dismissed, here. That effort may have backfired in drawing renewed attention to his case — and the fact that the California courts still want him arrested.

The French have been accused of protecting Polanski and he went to Zurich for its film festival, where he was going to receive a lifetime achievement award. France continues to defend Polanski and is working for his release, here.

If presented to a United States court, most judges would feel compelled to hit him with a heavy sentence due to his open contempt and flight from the prior court. This is a case where “celebrity justice” may be harsher than ordinary justice. For a prior column, click here.

symbionese_liberation_army_radical_sara_jane_olsonA good point of comparison would be the sentence given to Sara Jane Olson (aka Kathleen Ann Soliah). She committed her crimes with the Symbionese Liberation Army (including kidnapping Patty Hearst) and was indicted in 1976. That was just one year before Polanski and remained a fugitive for 24 years (as opposed to Polanski’s 31 years). Moreover, she was in hiding as opposed to Polanski who was viewed as virtually taunting the court by living in the open and was seen as conveying that the wealthy could live by a separate set of rules than the rest of society.

Olson was just released (here) after seven years prison. She pleaded guilty in 2001 (unlike Polanski who pleaded guilty, she was not tried in the seventies). She received 20 years to life. She was released after seven years due to a decision of the parole board to reduce the sentence.

For the full story, click here and here.

51 thoughts on “Roman Polanski Arrested in Switzerland”

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  2. A charming quote, reportedly from a 1979 interview Polanski gave to novelist Martin Amis:

    “If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… f—ing, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to f— young girls. Juries want to f— young girls. Everyone wants to f— young girls!”


  3. Sodomy and rape of a minor freak out any BRAIN! El Moi, are you aware of what this person did, or are you just playing?

  4. As I recall the judge was trying to impose a sentence that was excessively harsh compared to the standard of that era because Polanski wasn’t the kind of guy people like him liked.

    There is something about Polanski that freaks out the Republican brain. After his wife was killed there were all kinds of newspapers stories trying to insinuate that he was responsible, or ‘what did she expect marry that guy?’ Then suddenly this great gift arrives and they fall all over themselves to screw him.

  5. Mike,
    Of course there is an appeals process. An attorney can not advise a client to bolt. However, that issue is not really relevant.

    Now the issue becomes, what should the sentence be and can folks look at the due process issues seriously?

    You should try to find the HBO documentary. He got picked up on warrant. So? Not to minimize the underlying offense, however, the legal argument is missed because people act on emotion. It is what it is. The judge recused himself. Admitted to ex parte conversations with the prosecutor after the deal was done. A higher court already found this to be true. Now, if litigated properly, and if the judge is right… time served.

    The real beef is with the prosecutor and judge who has since passed.

    For law students who might be reading, it’s been a while. But, I wouldn’t want to grade any tests with an absolute abysmal failure to argue in the alternative rationally. F. I give most an F for failing to even recognize a valid contention. One must separate the flight. BFD. He should have gotten whacked to begin with. There is no separate crime charged for that (although contempt is possible). That’s a misdemeanor.

    Get mad at the prosecutor. The judge. The crime. That’s fair game. The crime is despicable and indefensible. However, due process concerns exist as a matter of fact. Did everyone forget the A in IRAC. Christ.

    The Media gets an “F” for failing to present the alternative argument. Few have. Toobin. A couple of lawyers. That’s it. Learn what happened. This is a legal blog. Try opening the brain. I’m not defending the crime. I’m defending the process. The law.

    He should have stayed in the jurisdiction. I’ll grant that out. Great. Now, what is the proper sentence. If the judge is correct as to misconduct being “substantial?” Time served.

    It ain’t like L.A. is known for their fine legal acumen. The defense lawyer, years ago, did a helluva job. Judge got soft b/c of the pressure. Polanski relied on the plea agreement to his detriment. Served time. Etc. Guess no one ever did a sex batt case before. They’re hard. Here, there is a pure, legal, defense. May not want to hear it. Sorry. Beat the argument.

    If misconduct rose to a level that violates due process, court has an obligation to enforce the terms of the deal. Basically. The substantive nature of the crime, while reprehensible, has nothing to do with the legal issue the defense raises, a judge recognizes it as valid, and that’s it for purposes of a legal discussion. One could argue the terms of the plea are different. That a judge can interfere or not accept a deal… that ain’t what happened. You don’t throw out law b/c the defendant is a scumbag and famous.

    Go read the Christian Burial Speech or something as an example.

    RE: Fugitive. Hate to burst your bubble, but warrants are issued every day. Not a separate crime. Argue the merits. Go look up the definition of “Warrant.” Geeeeeeeeeeeeez.

  6. He was arrested because he is a fugitive. U.S. Marshalls have wanted to talk to Roman for a long time. He is a convicted felon in California and fled before sentencing. He is going to prison, Welcome to Machine..

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