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”

  1. El Moi, think McFly! He wasn’t arrested for jaywalking! He was arrested for raping and sodomizing a minor! He is a convicted pedophile! Last time I checked jaywalking was a misdemeanor El Moi..

  2. If he’d been arrested for jaywalking would anyone be so concerned?

    If he’d been arrested for jaywalking and the judge planned to sentence him to years in jail and ‘voluntary deportation’ whose side would you be on?

    The point is leaving the California jurisdiction, not anything else.

  3. El Moi, Polanski is a fugitive. He is a fugitive from justice from the state of California. That is not the “only” issue. The state of California wants its’ “pound of flesh”. The legal system, like our society is sophisticated and because of that sophistication he was tracked and “seized” in Switzerland and will return. People are incensed because he “fled”, after he was found guilty and convicted for his crime. He was awaiting sentencing when he did his “Invisible Man” number. He is guilty of raping and sodomizing a minor he drugged with qualuudes and alcohol. People in France who adore Roman, are “deluded” in their hero worship. The first and most important issue is that he is a convicted felon, who has been “on the lam” for over three decades and thankfully he has been caught..

  4. What we have to keep in mind here is that he fled to France, that’s the issue, not what he was arrested for.

    Fleeing US jurisdiction, that is the only issue.

  5. The judge was just doing this job. Polanski had not “already been sentenced to jail and begun serving his sentence”. He was committed for pre-sentencing psychiatric evaluation. The fact that the judged wanted more information including a psychiatric evaluation before sentencing Polanski just shows he was doing his job. Again, Polanski no doubt knew before entered his guilty plea that the judge was under no obligation to accept the recommended sentence. If I were the judge, I would not have accepted it either–the guy FORCIBLY RAPED A CHILD. Rather than face justice for his crime, Polanski fled. Now justice has hopefully caught up with him.

  6. TMH:

    “But then the lunatic judge–whom everybody agrees was an unstable, unpredicable nut job…”


    Prove it.

  7. Mighty Harrison, the judge was “sociopathic”. Do you understand what you are saying? Like so many on this blog, you use “loaded” words that would make most people scratch their head in utter bewilderment! This is a deeply ingrained personality disorder that develops over a period of many years. In males this personality disorder develops at about the age of 4-5 and in females at the onset of puberty. The manifestaions of this personality disorder are more dramatic and socially intolerable when presented by males, due to the “deleterious” nature of this personality disorder. Secondly, because the judge was irresponsible and incapable of performing his duties as a judge in the courts of Los Angeles, does not assign him to the ranks of “sociopathy”, he may have had some “traits” as many of us do, but a “full” blown personality disorder? Maybe you need to rethink the words you want to use. One blogger, who is a regular here, loves to refer to people who disagree with him as being “delusional” or suffering from “Borderline Personality Disorder”. He to needs to find more accurate words to convey his arguments and sentiments. You are a very bright guy, you will find the words…

  8. It dosn’t matter, he wil set foot on this soil, in “chains”. U.S. Marshalls will personally escort him back to Los Angeles California. He will be greeted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff at LAX. Polanski is certainly know victim, he is a pedophile by definition and through his actions and is guilty of committing a felony in the state of California. He skipped before sentencing and the “deal” was not carved in stone with the D.A. The judge wanted to sit down and listen to Mr. Polanski explain himself as to “why he should get a more lenient sentence”. Before this could take place he fled and has been a fugitive for over thirty years. Get your facts straight. The CDC awaits his arrival. Welcome to Machine!

  9. Polanski agreed to be held accountable. He pleaded guilty. He did so according to a deal the government freely made. In fact, the government had the upper hand. If the government wanted more, it should have bargained for more. You don’t get what’s fair, you get what you negotiate.

    But then the lunatic judge–whom everybody agrees was an unstable, unpredicable nut job–announced that he was not going to accept the deal. And he announced that he was going to (yet again) behave unpredictably. Fine, but the thing is that Polanski had already entered his guilty plea. He couldn’t now just accept the fact that the judge wasn’t going along with the deal, and go to trial instead. Polanski’s hands were tied and he had to go in front of a narcissistic, possibly sociopathic, power-mad, headline-seeking judge. (Extra point question: What percentage of the population is sociopathic, and is the percentage of sociopathic judges higher or lower than that?) Anybody who doesn’t flee, if they have French citizenship, where they will not be extradited, is a fool.

    The California prosecutors and judge should abide by the origional deal. Next best is that they throw out the guilty plea and go to trial, but Polanski would be fool to set foot in the U.S. voluntarily based on anybody’s word.

    This judge should be postumously disbarred. He has made many people’s lives more difficult. If this judge had not sought out this case, and if it had gone beofe any other judge, the deal would have been over and done 30 years ago.

  10. cube:

    ““After 31 years, I consider those claims waived.” Now, you started up with the ad-hominems and argument from emotion,…”


    I fail to see how our dilettante’s failure to note any appeal to this claimed injustice for 31 years does not constitute waiver or laches. If one can sit on his rights for 31 years, he can sit on them forever. Maybe we can talk Charles Manson into appealing his case. That’s only 38 years of sitting,and he’s just as “innocent” as Roman!

  11. Cube: There’s this little thing called an appeals process to handle issues like you mentioned above. Polanski’s high priced attorneys no doubt would have advised him at the time that any judicial or prosecutorial misconduct would create grounds for appeal. I seriously doubt they advised him to flee the country. One would assume he made that bad decision on his own. I don’t think he has any valid grounds to fight extradition, though he may have grounds to challenge the misconduct in the original handling of the case ONCE HE PHYSICALLY PRESENTS HIMSELF IN CALIFORNIA.

    I think what disgusts people is the parade of celebrities decrying the “grave injustice” against Polanski, being sought for an offense which nowadays carries a comparatively harsh sentence(appropriately harsh, in my view). But Polanski didn’t want to do a day in jail, so he fled.

  12. Here is the link: CA Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza found “substantial misconduct” on the original case of Polanski. (AP)

    Don’t know if you’re a lawyer, but the point is, this little fact is virtually ignored by the media. And talking heads. Don’t claim to know everything. I know there’s more to know. I want a serious discussion. Apparently, you know it all.

  13. You simply fail to address the merits of the motion to dismiss filed. Now you make some cover with a response. Whatever.

    I freely admit I don’t know the answers, but, don’t use as some pretext the true littering from before. The real defense here is essentially the one the lawyers have presented. The motion to dismiss was kicked not on the merits, but b/c he absented himself.

    “After 31 years, I consider those claims waived.” Now, you started up with the ad-hominems and argument from emotion, so, I must ask… Is that the law of Uranus? C’mon. Sometimes error is so bad, we have something for that contingency…

    Something called “fundamental error” you may want to examine. I’m not saying it’s there. It’s a tough burden the defense must meet. But, these claims aren’t made by me. It’s the gravamen, as I understand it, of the motion. This is what defense attorney’s do. And, what if the judge’s misconduct rises to a level that mandates a time served deal? If so, later.
    A judge can nix a deal before it’s entered into. I agree. However, if a defendant begins to serve the sentence and the judge changes the rules, that’s another story. The motions to DQ the entire LA Bench is absurd, but as to this judge (who is dead) there are problems. If you have a copy of the motion to dismiss, link it. I’ve read the higher court made some findings of misconduct but did not hear the claim b/c he wasn’t there.

    Show me the links to the necessary information you willfully blind yourself to. I hope it’s not there. And, let it be known I think the bastard should pay. But, the claims should be examined fairly. With a blind eye. Not some pithy comment you fail to save face with. Send the links of the colloquy. Or the motion. Why not look at it? Are you afraid?

  14. Cube:

    I am aware of nothing requiring a California judge to accept a plea deal simply because one was proposed or even made. Your “analysis” consists of idle speculation, and the lament of a victim who is tired of both the case and the publicity that adversely affects her and her family. You may wish to see a Constitutional ghost behind every prosecution, but here there seems to be little evidence to support either the defendant’s innocence (flight to avoid punishment seems to handle this issue)or his claimed denial of due process. It’s worth remembering that Constitutionally compliant criminal proceedings are the norm and not the exception. The burden is on the fugitive to prove his denial of due process and that seems difficult if one is unwilling to come to court. After 31 years, I consider those claims waived. To conjure issues where there is little evidence to support them is the basis for my observation of intellectual littering.

  15. @mespo727272

    Way to critically analyze the arguments. “Intellectual littering.” It that ain’t the pot calling the kettle a moose with lipstick.

    Now, you can run your argument under a bridge with those who dwell there, but the fact remains you offer not one kernel of argument against the defense. This is not to say the defense wins the day, only that the argument is muted by dolts who argue with an appeal to emotion.

    I don’t claim to know the answer. I recognize an argument, that if true (and a higher court in CA already recognized substantial misconduct w/o ruling on the issue), is a scary thought. The idea is for justice to be blind. If its’ true that a deal was struck, and the judge went off the reservation and improperly nixed a negotiated deal, that is a scary thought. Try this. Ignore the substantive offense because I’m not sure you can handle exploring the alternative argument without running home. Respectfully.

    Everyone is sooooooooo happy to play Mother May I with the Constitution. Used only when it’s a convenient argument nowadays. Not saying I’m right, only that most ignore valid arguments (like you) and cannot ferret out issues that, as Prof. Turley points out are missed b/c Polanski flew the coop.

    Assume for argument’s sake the judge improperly interfered in a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent plea. Then Polanski fled. Defense burden is high, but if met, what then? A contempt charge in state court? C’mon. That’s weak. I don’t ignore the underlying offense. Morally, it’s indefensible. You however ignore the argument. Intuitively, I may want Polanski to go down. Viscerally I do. However, you simply skirt by the question I pose and take b.s. shots. Bring the A game bub.

    If anyone has a copy of the plea colloquy, I’d be curious to read it. If there is a victim statement as to the plea, let’s see it. I guess for some, justice isn’t blind. She looks at train wrecks and is a rubbernecker in need of a chiropractic work.

  16. mespo,

    Intellectual littering. lol. That’s just too useful a phrase not to use.

  17. @Cube: This thing is hairy only if you are distracted by all of the irrelevant arguments being made in his defense. In most jurisdictions, judges make the decision on sentencing and are under no obligation to honor a recommendation from the prosecution, even if it is part of a plea agreement. (Given the fact the Polanski FORCIBLY RAPED A CHILD, the judge would have been well within the mainstream of jurisprudence to insist on jail time.) Polanski was no doubt advised of this by his high-priced lawyers prior to pleading guilty, but if not, he could have moved to have the plea vacated and go to trial on the merits. He elected instead to flee and become a fugitive from the law. It has now caught up with him, and he will hopeful finally pay for his crime.

  18. Cube:

    “Dude has a defense.”


    “Dude” might have something — more than likely an extended stay at the expense of the California taxpayers. However, I am wondering what defense you might have to the charge of intellectual littering that you deposited here.

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