Polanski Will Have to Wait on Dismissal Request

A defense request to dismiss the three-decade-old sex case against fugitive film director Roman Polanski was put on hold Tuesday by a state appeals court.

A hearing had been scheduled for Wednesday on the request by attorneys for 75-year-old Polanski, who fled to his native France in the late 1970s following his plea to unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.

But the state's Second District Court of Appeal issued a stay on the hearing pending its review of the matter, according to Los Angeles Superior Court officials.

Defense attorneys had filed court papers asking Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza to dismiss the case against Polanski based on alleged judicial and prosecutorial misconduct.

The woman named as the victim in the 1970s case has joined the defense in urging it be dismissed.

In her four-page court declaration filed last week, Samantha Geimer -- a 45-year-old mother of four -- said she is "surprised and disappointed" the district attorney has refused to go along with the defense's request that the court drop the case.

"I was the 13-year-old girl Roman Polanski took advantage of on March 10, 1977 ... I have urged this matter come to a formal legal end. I have urged the district attorney and the court to dismiss these charges," Geimer wrote.

But in a response filed late last week, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren asked that the hearing be postponed "in light of the fact the defendant remains a fugitive from justice."

Walgren wrote it is the prosecution's position that "until such time that the defendant submits to this court's jurisdiction, and the court holds a hearing, the time is not ripe for the victim, either personally or through her attorney, to be heard in court."

Polanski's attorneys noted in their latest court filing, their client had already waived his presence at court proceedings in April 1977.

But the prosecutor countered that the waiver "is not a grant of permission by the court to allow the defendant to ignore its orders and flee its jurisdiction."

"Glaringly absent from the defense recitation of events in this case is the fact that, after filing his waiver, the defendant ignored a lawful and valid court order to appear in court, and instead chose to flee to the comforts of France," Walgren wrote.

The prosecutor added that Polanski "must personally appear in court" pursuant to the mandate of state law, and "nothing the defense has offered changes that fact."

Defense attorneys Chad S. Hummel and Bart Dalton wrote in their court papers last week that the prosecution's contention that state law requires Polanski's presence in any effort to seek relief "is completely unsupported by either the law or the record."

They also noted that "Mr. Polanski has no plans ever to return to the United States."

In their request that the case be dismissed, defense attorneys alleged that now-retired Deputy District Attorney David Wells -- who was not assigned to the case when Polanski entered his guilty plea to unlawful sexual intercourse -- engaged in "repeated unethical and unlawful" communications with now-deceased Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lawrence J. Rittenband.

The filing also contends that court officials tried to conceal Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler's alleged desire in 1997 for sentencing proceedings in the case to be televised, as Polanski's former attorney had said in the recent HBO documentary, "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired."

The court issued a statement last June, saying that the demand for a televised hearing was a "complete fabrication, entirely without any basis in fact, and completely unsupported by the court record."

Polanski won an Oscar for directing "The Pianist," and was nominated for directing "Tess" and "Chinatown," and also for writing the adapted screenplay for "Rosemary's Baby."

The director was out of the country when his first wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by members of the Manson family in 1969.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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