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Polanski Freed
July 12, 2010 6:14 AM   Subscribe

After nine months of custody in Switzerland, Swiss authorities have today ruled not to extradite filmmaker Roman Polanski to the US, where he faces sentencing stemming from sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Polanski is now a free man.

Polanski had been under house arrest in a chalet in Gstaad since last December. Last May, he issued a statement saying in part, "I am not going to try to ask you to pity my lot in life. I only ask to be treated fairly like anyone else." The victim in question recently lost her appeal to have the charges against him dropped.

The Swiss contend that "it was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the US extraditionary request,", and so Swiss ministry of justice official Eveline Widner-Schlumpf told reporters, "The Franco-Polish film-maker will not be extradited to the United States, and the measures of restriction on his liberty have been lifted. ... Polanski is now a free man."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing (292 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Related: Catholic Church moves headquarters to Switzerland.
posted by Legomancer at 6:21 AM on July 12, 2010 [41 favorites]


"It was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the US extraditionary request."

It is possible to include with necessary certainty that there is something very fishy about this.
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:28 AM on July 12, 2010


Related: Catholic Church moves headquarters to Switzerland.
posted by Legomancer at 9:21 AM on July 12


You do realize that unlike roman Polanski, the vast majority of Catholic priests have never molested anyone.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:28 AM on July 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


The victim wanted the charges against him dropped. After all these years, it baffles me how many people (and how many mefites) want an unstoppable abstract justice. After all those vices in the trial. Something similar is happening in Italy for the attempt to extradite ex-revolutionary Cesare Battisti from Brazil (and previously from France). Never forgiving, never forgetting... what for?
posted by Baldons at 6:28 AM on July 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


the vast majority of Catholic priests have never molested anyone

I'm pretty sure conspiracy to commit rape and accessories after the fact to rape are also illegal.
posted by DU at 6:33 AM on July 12, 2010 [14 favorites]


the victim was not prosecuting Polanski, the government was. It's not up to the victim how or if he is sentenced, it's up to the judicial system. He plead guilty, then changed his mind and ran so he wouldn't have to go to jail. If Polanski weren't rich and famous, he'd have been behind bars - just like any (poor, not-famous) rapist who confessed would be. It's baffling how many people give wealth, fame, and privilege a literal get-out-of-jail free card when it comes to this particular "unlawful sex" convict.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 6:33 AM on July 12, 2010 [81 favorites]


You do realize that unlike roman Polanski, the vast majority of Catholic priests have never molested anyone.

I bet he was exaggerating for comic effect.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:34 AM on July 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


Never forgiving, never forgetting... what for?

Because rape is a serious crime, I guess.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:34 AM on July 12, 2010 [30 favorites]


Never forgiving, never forgetting... what for?

Because Polanski fled to avoid punishment. The only person responsible for his situation is himself.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 6:36 AM on July 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


"The victim wanted the charges against him dropped."

What the victim wants is totally irrelevant in terms of justice. If we lived in a society where the victims' wishes were the motivating factor in our legislative process, we would be living in even more of a fucked up, insane society than the one we're already living in.

Justice shouldn't just stop being sought because a whole bunch of time has gone by and the victims are either dead or have stopped obsessing.

A few seconds worth of critical thinking would have revealed how pointless that argument is.

Sociopaths everywhere would love to live in that world, I'm sure.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 6:36 AM on July 12, 2010 [31 favorites]


After all these years, it baffles me how many people (and how many mefites) want an unstoppable abstract justice

You're absolutely right: I do want an abstract justice. I want evidence that power and money and glamour don't allow an accused child rapist to flout the law by fleeing the country. I want evidence that accused criminals will face the consequences of their actions. I want evidence that we frown on the accused fleeing jurisdiction and unilaterally deciding what punishment seems fair to him.

If nothing else, I want evidence that Switzerland respects our right to try the accused for the very offense incurred by fleeing. But I ain't gonna get it. There is no justice in allowing accused criminals to avoid the consequences of flight from prosecution.
posted by Elsa at 6:40 AM on July 12, 2010 [48 favorites]


I do belive that there are some crimes that are so serious that they should never be forgiven regardless of any passage of time, but in this case, I thought it was very perverse to invite Polanski to Switzerland to receive a lifetime achievement award for his career as a dirctor, and to then arrest him for a crime that he commited 33 years ago. This makes him, in a sense, the victim of his own accomplishments, without which he would not have won the award which made possible his arrest. Anyway, it's a safe bet that Polanski won't be travelling outside of France to accept any other awards in the future.
posted by grizzled at 6:40 AM on July 12, 2010


It's an interesting balancing act, deciding whether it's more important to make Polanski pay for his crime or whether his victim should be left alone as she wishes.

Prison being out of the question now (unless he's silly enough to come to the United States), I suppose society will have to make do with the fact that a significant portion of people who hear the name Roman Polanski will automatically think 'child rapist'.
posted by Mooski at 6:40 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's an interesting balancing act, deciding whether it's more important to make Polanski pay for his crime or whether his victim should be left alone as she wishes.

These two things are totally unrelated. Sentencing Polanski and putting him in jail has nothing to do with his victim being "left alone" - it's not like the prosecutor's going to have her guard his cell.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 6:42 AM on July 12, 2010


<>Never forgiving, never forgetting... what for?"

Because it's a bad idea to once again reinforce the notion that justice is blind to everything except money. Do we really want to cement the notion the if you are wealthy you are effectively beyond the reach of the law (or can be if you flee).
posted by oddman at 6:42 AM on July 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


If nothing else, I want evidence that Switzerland respects our right to try the accused for the very offense incurred by fleeing. But I ain't gonna get it. There is no justice in allowing accused criminals to avoid the consequences of flight from prosecution.

If the US wants Switzerland to respect its laws then it should respect Swiss law which it clearly does not.
posted by atrazine at 6:43 AM on July 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


If he wasn't a famous director he'd just be "Orenthal the bus driving murderer Roman the Immigrant Molester". But he's a famous director, and people like his films, so hey! He gets away with rape. I'm sure everyone feels better.

Me? I feel bad about that thing called the "rule of law". I was pretty sure the point of extradition treaties was that there was a process established by which countries could prosecute fugitives that ran from the law, but I guess that process is optional if the fugitive is famous.
posted by norm at 6:43 AM on July 12, 2010


Yea, just what I said about dreadnought unstoppable justice. I'm just glad that Polanski can now breathe open air and not ever have to meet again the beautiful american prison system.
posted by Baldons at 6:43 AM on July 12, 2010


Okay, here you have a victim who was drugged, raped, sodomized, and had oral sex performed on her against her will while asking for it to stop.... and she's forgiven him. Not only that, she's publicly asked everyone else to forgive him. When will humanity step up? I guess Switzerland already has.
posted by scrowdid at 6:45 AM on July 12, 2010


These two things are totally unrelated.

I disagree. The victim, if not called directly to testify, will almost certainly get a walk down memory lane every time she sees yet another headline in this year's 'trial of the decade'.
posted by Mooski at 6:46 AM on July 12, 2010


If the US wants Switzerland to respect its laws then it should respect Swiss law which it clearly does not.

Can you be more specific?
posted by Elsa at 6:46 AM on July 12, 2010


This is why they say that hard cases make bad law: the facts that the victim wanted the charges dropped, that decades had gone by, the criminal's stature, and that the judge dishonored the bargain under which the guilty plea was obtained, don't alter the principles involved, but they can certainly effect one's emotional reaction to the case.
posted by tyllwin at 6:49 AM on July 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


The justice system of the U.S. is not the enforcer of victim's whims and wishes, it enforces society's rules. Society (mostly) doesn't condone "unlawful sex" with 13 year olds, which Polanski pled guilty to; and he fled to avoid punishment for that crime.

Again, why does Polanski get a pass when other famous, wealthy, and unjustly free criminals (Enron, Bush&Co. if that's your thing, Blackwater execs) do not? It can't be just because he made a few movies?
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 6:49 AM on July 12, 2010


Phil Spector's probably pretty bummed he didn't get his ass over to Ye Olde Countries...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:50 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, is this revenge for the U.S. suing Swiss banks to reveal the names of tax dodgers?
posted by stavrogin at 6:51 AM on July 12, 2010


Sure he's not going to jail, but it's not like he's getting off scot-free.

For the rest of his life, he'll be restricted to chalets and luxury apartments in countries other than the United States, haunted and hounded by cultural awards, royalties, entertainment moguls, investment advisors, film fans, among others. He will never know who is lurking behind him at any time.

All for what? Drugging and anally raping a thirteen year old. Like we haven't all that at one time or another.

Fuckin' puritans, I tell ya. They all sicken me.
posted by codswallop at 6:52 AM on July 12, 2010 [39 favorites]


I disagree. The victim, if not called directly to testify, will almost certainly get a walk down memory lane every time she sees yet another headline in this year's 'trial of the decade'.

If the victim has forgiven Polanski and doesn't even think he should be facing criminal charges, it can't be that big of a deal then can it? It can't be both ways - too horrible to face again, yet not bad enough that Polanski (unlike any other poor, non-famous convicted rapist) should actually be punished.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 6:53 AM on July 12, 2010


The US routinely strong-arms and threatens Swiss banks, including threatening to arrest any of their employees who enters the US. The fact that they primarily do this to catch tax evaders is not really relevant, the point is that they don't respect Swiss banking secrecy laws.

This made a lot of people in Switzerland very angry because they saw it as infringement of their sovereignty, which is basically their national religion.

See also their treatment of people involved in perfectly legal Central American gambling websites who get arrested even transferring at an American airport.

Not that I'm a huge fan of tax evasion or gambling, but when it suits the US it will step all over the laws of other countries to get its way.
posted by atrazine at 6:54 AM on July 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


So, is this revenge for the U.S. suing Swiss banks to reveal the names of tax dodgers?

Basically, yes, I'm sure that's part of it.

It's a shame that he'll be able to get away with it, but that's the way it goes.
posted by atrazine at 6:56 AM on July 12, 2010


Jay Smooth made a really great video about this awhile back.
posted by lunit at 6:56 AM on July 12, 2010


Okay, here you have a victim who was drugged, raped, sodomized, and had oral sex performed on her against her will while asking for it to stop.... and she's forgiven him. Not only that, she's publicly asked everyone else to forgive him. When will humanity step up?

Because justice does not, and should not, take into account whether the victim has "forgiven" the perpetrator. Leave abstract notions of humanity out of this. Polanski admitted to raping a 13 year old girl and then ran off to Europe to live a life of luxury. Society can not, and should not, "forgive" this kind of behavior. It sets a horrible, horrible precedent, in terms of both getting away with raping young girls and getting away with fleeing a judicial sentence.

What the hell. I cannot even comprehend the FORGIIIIIIIVENESSSSSSSS whine that rises from the masses when it comes to rapists like Polanski. I cannot.
posted by lydhre at 6:56 AM on July 12, 2010 [17 favorites]


I'm just glad that Polanski can now breathe open air and not ever have to meet again the beautiful american prison system.

Incredible
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 6:58 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing the "it was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the US extraditionary request" has something to do with the strange, self-aggrandizing behavior of the judge in the case, which Roger Ebert summarized in his review of the documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired:

...the story she builds, brick by brick with eyewitness testimony, is about crimes against the justice system carried out by the judge of Polanski's case, Laurence J. Rittenband. So corrupt was this man that the documentary finds agreement among the three people (aside from Polanski) most interested in the outcome: the defense attorney, Douglas Dalton; the assistant D.A. who prosecuted the case, Roger Gunson, and Samantha Gailey Geimer, who was the child involved.

Their testimony nails Rittenband as a shameless publicity seeker who was more concerned with his own image than arriving at justice. Who broke his word to attorneys on both sides. Who staged a fake courtroom session in which Gunson and Geimer were to go through the motions of making their arguments before the judge read an opinion he had already prepared. Who tried to stage such a "sham" (Gunson's term) a second time. Who juggled possible sentences in discussions with outsiders, once calling a Santa Monica reporter, David L. Jonta, into his chambers to ask him, "What the hell should I do with Polanski?" Who discussed the case with the guy at the next urinal at his country club. Who held a press conference while the case was still alive. Who was removed from the case on a motion by both prosecution and defense.

The most significant fact of the film is that the prosecutor Gunson, a straight-laced Mormon, agrees with the defender Dalton that justice was not served. Both break their silences for this film after many years, Gunson saying, "I'm not surprised that he left the country under those circumstances." Samantha Geimer, whose family asked at the time that Polanski not be prosecuted or jailed, came public in 1997 to forgive him, and now says she feels Rittenband was running the case for his own aggrandizement, "orchestrating some little show that I didn't want to be in." And in 2003, I learn from the New York Times, she published a statement, concluding: "Who wouldn't think about running when facing a 50-year sentence from a judge who was clearly more interested in his own reputation than a fair judgment or even the well-being of the victim?"

posted by mediareport at 6:58 AM on July 12, 2010 [17 favorites]


Switzerland: land of direct democracy, pederasts and Nazi gold.

This makes him, in a sense, the victim of his own accomplishments, without which he would not have won the award which made possible his arrest.

On the other hand, if he hadn't been famous, he wouldn't have been able to live a life of luxury in Switzerland after committing child rape, so I guess it all evens out.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 6:59 AM on July 12, 2010


If the victim has forgiven Polanski and doesn't even think he should be facing criminal charges, it can't be that big of a deal then can it?

Of course it's a big deal. Forgiving someone doesn't reduce the severity of the thing being forgiven. A person who is big enough to forgive their rapist isn't necessarily interested in reliving it.

I wish justice could be more like gravity myself, sometimes. But the fact that it involves human nature and interaction means it's more like a road runner cartoon - sometimes gravity works, sometimes it doesn't, and the only thing you can count on is that someone won't like how it worked this time.
posted by Mooski at 7:00 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


And in 2003, I learn from the New York Times, she published a statement, concluding: "Who wouldn't think about running when facing a 50-year sentence from a judge who was clearly more interested in his own reputation than a fair judgment or even the well-being of the victim?"

This amounts to a complaint that Polanski faced the same risks that any convicted criminal defendant faces every day in the justice system.

That's what lawyers and the appellate process are for.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 7:01 AM on July 12, 2010 [13 favorites]


I wonder how much money he paid to the Swiss authorities to let him go free.
posted by reenum at 7:02 AM on July 12, 2010


Something similar is happening in Italy for the attempt to extradite ex-revolutionary Cesare Battisti from Brazil (and previously from France). Never forgiving, never forgetting... what for?

That guy sounds like a bit of a shit, frankly. Shooting the 13 year old son of a jeweller who resisted a robbery, leaving him paraplegic? Not cool.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 7:04 AM on July 12, 2010


It's not up to the victim how or if he is sentenced, it's up to the judicial system.

But now a judicial system has also refused to extradite him, correct?

So, the judicial system argument ends there, doesn't it? There's still a moral argument, I suppose, but that is a different thing.
posted by vacapinta at 7:08 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like escapes. I don't like prisons. It sucks that the rich can afford to escape the law, and the poor can't, but that doesn't make it less right or wrong. If a rich man escapes an unjust trial, then I'm happy for him, and I also wish that those in the same situation, but poor, could escape, too.
Oh, and the church, Pinochet, nazis, Enron, etc. are institutional, systemic, organized problems. Can't really compare.
posted by Baldons at 7:08 AM on July 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


it's a safe bet that Polanski won't be travelling outside of France to accept any other awards in the future.

What a shame we can't trade him for Henry Kissinger.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:09 AM on July 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


But now a judicial system has also refused to extradite him, correct?

I was responding to a comment about the U.S. judicial system; most people (I assume) are saying that Polanski should no longer be facing charges even in the U.S.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 7:10 AM on July 12, 2010


A simple, totally obvious, and probably superlatively important reason as to why victims should have no say in the justice process that I'm surprised no one has mentioned yet: if victims did have a say, they could be intimidated into "forgiving."
posted by invitapriore at 7:11 AM on July 12, 2010 [12 favorites]


Speaking of fairness, Lindsay Lohan just joined my list of celebrities that got harder time for probation violation than Polanski was threatened with for pleading guilty to raping a girl.

But, for me the issue is a matter of privilege. Polanski pled guilty. He jumped bail. When confronted with a petition to dismiss the case in absentia, Espinoza wisely said that convicted felons who are fugitives from the court need to appear before the court for their case to be heard. Polanski said "fuck you" from the safety of his home in France.

If his case is to be dismissed or not, Polanski needs to do what millions of other lesser felons do. He needs to put on a suit and tie and meet his obligations as a convicted felon to attend the proceedings necessary for proper due process of the law. It certainly appears that Espinoza is open to declaring it a mistrial, but he's unwilling to do so for someone who's used profound wealth and privilege to run from the case.

But now a judicial system has also refused to extradite him, correct?

So, the judicial system argument ends there, doesn't it?


Not really because extradition applies only to the transfer of custody. Polanski's obligations as a convicted felon still apply.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:11 AM on July 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


> Do we really want to cement the notion the if you are wealthy you are effectively beyond the reach of the law (or can be if you flee).

Well, it does provide more incentive to break into the upper class.
posted by davelog at 7:12 AM on July 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


This amounts to a complaint that Polanski faced the same risks that any convicted criminal defendant faces every day in the justice system.

Exactly... except that Polanski's financial and social resources* available to cope with the problems of the legal system, unlike many accused criminals who feel they are facing undue prejudice or unfair judges. Instead he used those resources to avoid the system, and should be punished for that very serious offense.

It's certainly possible that he didn't have the emotional or psychological resources necessary: lots of Polanski apologists bring up his experiences as a Holocaust survivor as evidence that he couldn't face the pressures of the system. It seems entirely possible to me that the gruesome and tragic murder of Sharon Tate only a few years earlier was informing his psychological state, too. Though these factors may help explain his flight, I don't think they excuse it
posted by Elsa at 7:13 AM on July 12, 2010


Pinochet was a man, same with Enron execs who escaped punishment for demolishing the livelihoods of thousands, they're easily compared.

It sucks that the rich can afford to escape the law, and the poor can't, but that doesn't make it less right or wrong.

It's exactly that - the ability of the rich to escape the law - that is wrong.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 7:14 AM on July 12, 2010


Shooting the 13 year old son of a jeweller who resisted a robbery, leaving him paraplegic? Not cool.

There's a lot of misinformation about the case. The jeweller actually shot and paralyzed his own son in the confusion (before being killed himself by the robbers). Tragic story. But it's not even sure that Battisti was there; he wasn't the leader of the group; but he was the only one accused, in absentia by the way, by a pentito who also "revealed" that Yasser Arafat was the head of the italian Red Brigades. Battisti was also accused of killing to people in completely different places on the same day.
posted by Baldons at 7:14 AM on July 12, 2010


It's an interesting balancing act, deciding whether it's more important to make Polanski pay for his crime or whether his victim should be left alone as she wishes. ...

The victim, if not called directly to testify, will almost certainly get a walk down memory lane every time she sees yet another headline in this year's 'trial of the decade'.


Mooski, there isn't an interesting question of balancing between (1) the victim's reaction to headlines and (2) the just resolution of a rape case. The latter is extremely important. The former is trivial; she can avoid looking at those headlines if she wants.

Also, if the fact that a case is making headlines were considered a factor against imposing criminal punishment, that would have tragically perverse consequences. The cases most likely to make the headlines are those involving celebrities and cases that are especially disturbing for whatever reason (which are sometimes silly reasons, e.g. the victim is a pretty woman, but are often actually important reasons, e.g. mass murder, extreme cruelty, hate crimes). The ideal (if never the reality) is that a defendant's fame/wealth/power (three things that tend to go together) should have no effect on the outcome of a criminal case. In fact, it's unusually important to impose just consequences in a headline-making case, since those cases influence the general public's view of the law.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:17 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm officially washing my hands of even having an opinion on this topic after this post, and it'd be great if the world could stop caring as well. I don't think of Polanski as a child rapist, I think of him as a guy who had a pretty messed up life, did a crime that he should have been fairly sentenced for, and then got screwed over by a judge looking to serve his own career in a bait-and-switch game of sentencing.

He's made some great films and some pretty cheesy ones (The Ninth Gate comes to mind), but that really doesn't have anything to do with the legal circumstances. Then again, it also has everything to do with the legal circumstances, because he wouldn't have had a high-publicity case, the girl would have never been in that situation to begin with, and the judge wouldn't have had much to gain by making an eleventh hour change in sentencing to do some grandstanding.

So that's it. I'm fine with the situation where the US acts like they have a compulsion to bring him to "justice," his peers feel he's unfairly being hunted, and he makes movies in Europe where he lives in perpetual exile.
posted by mikeh at 7:17 AM on July 12, 2010 [13 favorites]



Exactly... except that Polanski's financial and social resources* available to cope with the problems of the legal system, unlike many accused criminals who feel they are facing undue prejudice or unfair judges. Instead he used those resources to avoid the system, and should be punished for that very serious offense.


Oh, I agree. I'm unsympathetic to this idea - that he fled because the judge was unfair; judges are unfair all over; it's only because of his privilege that he escaped. And of course because of his privileged position he continues to be given a pass (bizzarely and unlike almost any other person in his position)
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 7:18 AM on July 12, 2010


I am not so sure I like, as an abstract principle, the concept that the victim's wishes for clemency or what have you are meaningless. I am not saying that "the victim rules," but rather that, for prosecution to occur, I would prefer that both the government and the victim be on board. Without that, we are heading back into victimless crime land, wherein the act itself, rather than the impact, is viewed as illegal.

Obviously, here, the acts were illegal, but this whole effort now seems to be more about U.S. dick-swinging (can we get other countries to obey our laws?) than any abstract justice. And Polanski makes a great target for this because we have pedoephebophiles as part of the Four Horsemen (drug pushers, hackers, and terrorists included). Sex offenders are a great way to get the camel's nose in the tent — you can hardly defend them, now can you?
posted by adipocere at 7:21 AM on July 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


"I do belive that there are some crimes that are so serious that they should never be forgiven regardless of any passage of time, but in this case, I thought it was very perverse to invite Polanski to Switzerland to receive a lifetime achievement award for his career as a dirctor, and to then arrest him for a crime that he commited 33 years ago. This makes him, in a sense, the victim of his own accomplishments, without which he would not have won the award which made possible his arrest."
So you're arguing he's a victim of his own success? Also, it's not like the US government lobbied for him to get the award, pressured him into traveling to accept it, or asked him to flee in the first place.

I think there's mitigating circumstances in this case and while the victim should have no say in the prosecution, she for sure should get a say in the even of a conviction. If Roman Polanski wants to be treated fairly he needs to stand trial and make his case. Otherwise it would please me immensely if he would just shut up. The whiny gasbag!
posted by cjorgensen at 7:21 AM on July 12, 2010


"while the victim should have no say in the prosecution, she for sure should get a say in the even of a conviction."

He was convicted years ago, and fled from sentencing.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:24 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


What the hell, Switzerland.
posted by orange swan at 7:25 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


mikeh: I don't think of Polanski as a child rapist, I think of him as a guy who had a pretty messed up life, did a crime that he should have been fairly sentenced for, and then got screwed over by a judge looking to serve his own career in a bait-and-switch game of sentencing.

Well yes, the judge screwed up. Like hundreds of judges across the United States. The judge's actions were immediately called into question. That's what we have an appeals process for, and to demand as a convicted felon to be heard by the courts while refusing to be subject to the courts strikes me as high wankery.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:28 AM on July 12, 2010


same with Enron execs who escaped punishment for demolishing the livelihoods of thousands, they're easily compared.

You mean the one in prison for the next 20 years, they guy who shot himself, and the guy who died of a heart attack? Surely the escape of the century!
posted by atrazine at 7:29 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sure there are some french citizens that France refuses to extradite to some totalitarian countries to be tried there. Maybe you think that is a bad thing but I can personally see the benefit. I don't see why the US should get special treatment either. As far as Polanski avoiding justice, good for him. The US justice system is apparently not going to give him a break why should he give one to the justice system.

And when it comes to prosecution in France, a moot point now because so much time has gone, that probably should have happened but didn't because of politics and his fame. So he did indeed get preferential treatment. But as a foreign citizen he has no obligation, in my opinion, whatsoever to stand trial in the US.

Furthermore if the sentencing recommendations of the prosecution, the criminal psychiatrist and the victim would have been followed, he wouldn't have gone into jail in the first place. So the only reason for him to come to the US is at best a symbolic gesture or at worst (should another judge decide to just do whatever the hell he wants) arguably unjust imprisonment.
posted by Authorized User at 7:30 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mooski, there isn't an interesting question of balancing between (1) the victim's reaction to headlines and (2) the just resolution of a rape case. The latter is extremely important. The former is trivial; she can avoid looking at those headlines if she wants.

I would argue the victim is what makes the resolution of a rape case important in the first place. If the victim is of a mind to forgive and (hopefully) forget, then I believe that justice should take its cue from that.

There was no reasonably timely resolution to this case, and I agree that this is a bad thing; however, since justice was not able to resolve the issue for the victim, the victim has apparently (in her own mind, at least) resolved it for herself.

I understand the argument that effect should follow cause where justice is concerned, regardless of the resources of the perpetrator. I mostly agree, even.

On the other hand, I think attempting to try and imprison for a crime committed decades ago, over the objections of the victim, is just bloodymindedness. I don't agree with bloodymindedness.
posted by Mooski at 7:31 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, here you have a victim who was drugged, raped, sodomized, and had oral sex performed on her against her will while asking for it to stop.... and she's forgiven him. Not only that, she's publicly asked everyone else to forgive him.

Let's see. The rape victim -- who, as settlement of a lawsuit, was paid an undisclosed sum of money by the fabulously wealthy man who raped her -- wants him to be publicly forgiven. So what?

In addition to the money, how do we know that the settlement didn't require her to say what she's been saying? (The terms of a civil settlement are generally confidential.)

I'm glad she was compensated. I'm sure that whatever money she received wasn't even adequate, since the rape can't be undone. But we shouldn't be citing her "wishes" under the assumption that she's credible and unbiased.

The victim I care about is the 13-year-old girl who was drugged and anally raped. I also care about other potential victims in the future. What this particular victim says in public decades later should not be a factor in what happens to the convicted rapist.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:32 AM on July 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


A couple weeks ago I was taking Spanish immersion classes in Mexico. My teacher was asking the four of us students about our favorite movies. He didn't know a whole lot about Hollywood, but did say that he really enjoyed Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Followed by "But it's too bad about the rape of those girls."

When it's all too easy to confuse Woody Allen with Roman Polanski, justice has clearly not been served.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:32 AM on July 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't think of Polanski as a child rapist, I think of him as a guy who had a pretty messed up life, did a crime that he should have been fairly sentenced for, and then got screwed over by a judge looking to serve his own career in a bait-and-switch game of sentencing.

Agreed. Ever see The Pianist? Several scenes in that movie were based on his childhood. A little sympathy, perhaps?
posted by Melismata at 7:34 AM on July 12, 2010


I meant to add...I was shocked that A) I spent 5 minutes trying to convince my teacher that Yes, two totally different people, and B) nobody there could back me up on that.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:34 AM on July 12, 2010


Authorized User: But as a foreign citizen he has no obligation, in my opinion, whatsoever to stand trial in the US.

Are you really saying that foreign visitors have carte blanche to ignore local laws?

Furthermore if the sentencing recommendations of the prosecution, the criminal psychiatrist and the victim would have been followed, he wouldn't have gone into jail in the first place.

Most likely, he would have been sentenced to the full 90 days that he was expected to serve in the hospital. Which again, is lighter time than Lindsay Lohan got for violating probation.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:35 AM on July 12, 2010


If the victim has forgiven Polanski and doesn't even think he should be facing criminal charges, it can't be that big of a deal then can it?

Well if I've learned anything in the last 24 hours, it's all about how much the victim's airplane was worth.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:35 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Again, why does Polanski get a pass when other famous, wealthy, and unjustly free criminals (Enron, Bush&Co. if that's your thing, Blackwater execs) do not? It can't be just because he made a few movies?
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 6:49 AM on July 12 [+] [!]


I missed the part where Bush & Co. or Blackwater didn't get a pass. Last I checked, none of them were in any danger of seeing a prison cell any time soon, and they've got real wealth and power to protect them.

I don't give a flying fuck about Roman Polanski, personally. I never liked his movies either. But how rich can he really be?
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:35 AM on July 12, 2010


If the victim has forgiven Polanski and doesn't even think he should be facing criminal charges, it can't be that big of a deal then can it? It can't be both ways - too horrible to face again, yet not bad enough that Polanski (unlike any other poor, non-famous convicted rapist) should actually be punished.

How the victim wishes to move on with her life and the emotional value to her of forgiving her rapist does not re-categorize the crime as "no big deal." Murder victims (being dead and all) don't care if their murderers serve time either, but that doesn't make the crime "no big deal."
posted by desuetude at 7:36 AM on July 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Polanski should be punished but now how. Rapist is romming around as a free man. Swiss should understand this
posted by KPAstrology at 7:39 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mooski: On the other hand, I think attempting to try and imprison for a crime committed decades ago, over the objections of the victim, is just bloodymindedness. I don't agree with bloodymindedness.

I don't care if he's imprisoned. I just feel that he should meet the obligations of his plea bargain, just like every other felon who's confessed to and was convicted of sexual assault. If Espanoza wants to declare a mistrial, sentence Polanski to time served under house arrest, and deport him on the next international flight, awesome.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:39 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Polanski should be punished but now how. Rapist is romming around as a free man. Swiss should understand this

Thank you, Rorschach.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:40 AM on July 12, 2010 [20 favorites]


I think attempting to try and imprison for a crime committed decades ago, over the objections of the victim, is just bloodymindedness. I don't agree with bloodymindedness.

But Polanski himself is the one who prevented them from imprisoning him back when the crime was more recent!

There are statutes of limitations for bringing a prosecution against some in the first place. Well, actually, there might not be an applicable statute of limitations for a crime as serious as this, but we can put the actual law aside for the sake of argument. It would be totally unacceptable to have a system where a convicted* rapist can create his own special statute of limitations by evading the prosecution against him. That's not what a statute of limitations is, nor should it be. If anything, his sentence should be increased.

* There's no question of "trying" him -- he pleaded guilty.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:41 AM on July 12, 2010


Also, in case my earlier comments came off flippant, I should add that this latest news makes me sick and disillusioned all over again.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:42 AM on July 12, 2010


I see this as possible further evidence that the rest of the world really is starting to look upon us as the bad guys; "He raped a child, sure...but don't send him to the....(scary music)...United States!"
posted by umberto at 7:43 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Are you really saying that foreign visitors have carte blanche to ignore local laws?

You are correct, I did not think that comment through. What I am arguing against is the extradition of citizens from their own country based on the court decisions of the country requesting extradition alone.
posted by Authorized User at 7:46 AM on July 12, 2010


The jeweller actually shot and paralyzed his own son in the confusion (before being killed himself by the robbers). Tragic story.

Wikipedia provides an interview with an Italian science fiction writer as the sole source for this claim. So ... no, I'm not going to believe that.

In any event, his little gang started the gunfight, so I think that they bear responsibility for it anyway.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 7:47 AM on July 12, 2010



And when it comes to prosecution in France, a moot point now because so much time has gone, that probably should have happened but didn't because of politics and his fame. So he did indeed get preferential treatment. But as a foreign citizen he has no obligation, in my opinion, whatsoever to stand trial in the US.

Do you think that raping a child is somehow not a crime in France or Switzerland? There's something to be said for countries protecting their citizens against extradition requests from countries for crimes that the home country doesn't recognize as a crime. This is not a case of that.
posted by odinsdream at 7:47 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


But Polanski himself is the one who prevented them from imprisoning him back when the crime was more recent!

Yep. It sucks alright. I don't feel it's about Polanski getting away with it, though - it's about the victim, and the victim's apparently good with it just being over.

And now (again, unless Polanski decides to go to a country with an extradition arrangement with the U.S.) it is over. I wish the victim all the best, and I'm sorry it ever happened to her.
posted by Mooski at 7:52 AM on July 12, 2010


I thought it was very perverse to invite Polanski to Switzerland to receive a lifetime achievement award for his career as a director, and to then arrest him for a crime that he commited 33 years ago.

I just wanted to point out that I'll bet two different entities did this, not one.....

...otherwise fuck it, I ain't going to any awards!
posted by jscott at 7:53 AM on July 12, 2010


He was convicted years ago, and fled from sentencing.

The Polanski story is pretty much tainted by:

1. His disgusting crime.

2. The mealy-mouth defenses of Polanski which either a) pretend that raping a child is no big deal, b) pretend that the quality of his directing somehow makes raping a child OK, c) that his horrifying childhood and other misfortunes somehow make raping a child OK, or d) some combination of a, b, and c. Note: there is no defense for raping a child, OK? Is this so hard to understand?

3. The judge in the case seemingly cared more about his "in" with Hollywood than justice for the victim, then started backpedaling on his agreements with Polanski's lawyers when he started getting heat for his earlier decisions. His erratic behavior made Polanski's flight sensible if immoral.

Pretty much everyone involved with this story (including the US and Swiss governments) richly deserve scorn and ridicule. Every time there is new news on this, I get the same headache and sense of nausea...
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:54 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ever see The Pianist? Several scenes in that movie were based on his childhood. A little sympathy, perhaps?

At most, those are factors that should be considered in the sentencing phase of the case. If there's a procedural or substantive error with the sentencing, that should be addressed on appeal.

I understand that Polanski had a hard life. In a bizarre and horrendous coincidence, he / his family was victimized by two different very famous groups of mass murderers. But we can't have a justice system where anyone who's had terrible tragedies happen to their family can get off scot-free for orally and anally raping a 13-year-old girl.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:54 AM on July 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


I don't think any of Polanski's defenders would be arguing for this guy if he hadn't made movies they happened to like/thought important. And that's the definition of privilege, right there.

What he did to that girl was wrong and sick, and what made it worse is the way so many have gone about erasing the crime against her, excusing it on the grounds that she somehow wanted it to happen, age notwithstanding, or now, when she has been so beaten down by this experience defining her life (which it would not, if Polanski had just served his effing time by now and not been enabled in his pretense that he was some sort of noble tragic hero) that she is asking us to drop it, using that pitiful plea as yet another reason this great man, this hero, should not go to jail.

He drugged and raped a girl. He admitted it. He damaged her life and then proceeded to turn it into a sick celebrity footnote because he lacked the basic decency to treat her like a human being or accept his minimal amount of punishment.

You know who's suffering now? She is. Because the longer he remains a fugitive, the longer he drags this out and keeps the controversy going.

Polanski could end this all tomorrow. He could serve his time and move on with his life, with minimal damage to his career, and eventually interest would wane. And maybe she could get on with her life, too.

Suggesting that those of us who don't want to see a rapist get away with rape are somehow at fault for this sick circus, rather than, you know, THE RAPIST, is probably the worst aspect of the whole thing.

Do you have women friends, or daughters, or relatives? Then you should be ashamed to support this man, because a world where money/artistic skill gives you a free license to rape is a world that tells them, your female loved ones, that they are nothing, that they are meat, that they are there to be used and thrown away. Stand on that platform if you want to, but don't ask me to applaud you.
posted by emjaybee at 7:54 AM on July 12, 2010 [61 favorites]


If Polanski weren't rich and famous, he'd have been behind bars - just like any (poor, not-famous) rapist who confessed would be. It's baffling how many people give wealth, fame, and privilege a literal get-out-of-jail free card when it comes to this particular "unlawful sex" convict.

I'll start by saying I'm not trying to debate his guilt or defend him here: Polanski is guilty as sin and should have had gone to jail for what he did. I just want to address the "if he wasn't a celebrity" line.

There's an inverse to that argument almost always made about celebrity crime. I think there's also a truth to the fact that if he wasn't famous, he could have likely gotten away with it too because like the tragic majority of sexual assault cases in this country, most people don't give a shit and most cops can't do anything without significant evidence or, like in the incredible rarity of Polanski, an actual confession. You heard the same arguments in the Kobe Bryant case, the Michael Jackson case- that he "got away with it because he was famous." Well, yeah, but what's sad is that if Kobe wasn't famous, he likely could have been some dude who slept with a woman who had little to no evidence and were her alleged attacker not famous, the cops would have done a rape kit, rolled their eyes and said "well he said..." I'm not proud of this at all, but it's sadly the truth. If Michael Jackson wasn't Michael Jackson, no cameras would have been rolling on the child saying he was molested and we never would have been talking about it to begin with.

Meanwhile, as people have noted (albiet sarcastically), Polanski has pretty much gotten away with it. He had a successful career. If you think Ted Kennedy is a murderer- guess what, he "got away with it," serving for decades in the Senate and dying peacefully in his sleep. Fidel Castro? Yeah, he's not getting any "justice" that people who think he deserves it want. I guess I'm saying that because while the celebrity element angers us, it also often feels like the only reason we care in contrast to the numerous times this happens everywhere else. I care far more about the asshat who stole and wrecked my friend's motorscooter this weekend - becaue it impacted me and harmed my sense of justice far more than Polanski did - but motorscooter thief douchebag isn't getting his fourth MetaFilter thread.

It's a weird feeling seeing people get angry about celebrity crime because it feels like we're just doing what we'd be doing if it was an episode of their reality show. Even the debate about "what the victim wants" is in the context of the celebrity - what do we want to see? "It doesn't matter what the victim wants, justice needs to be served!" Really"? How much of that is personal emotion? That's not a demand for alleviating the suffering of a victim, that's wanting the ending to the latest episode of the Roman Polanski Reality Show you want. I wish there was a more distinct analysis of how much we all really care about justice and how much we all just, like always, like watching celebrities for better or for worse.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:00 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think of Polanski as a child rapist,

Except that's what he is. However much a mistake it was and however many extenuating circumstances there were or not, he is a child rapist. He raped a child, therefore he is a child rapist. You can forgive him all you like but he is most definitely a grown man that raped a child.

He whines, cries and refuses to take responsibility for his actions, getting a bunch of his rich artist friends to do the same on his behalf. His victim should be left alone but that doesn't mean society should forget all about it because some time has passed and a child rapist feels sorry for himself.
posted by shinybaum at 8:02 AM on July 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


When it's all too easy to confuse Woody Allen with Roman Polanski, justice has clearly not been served.

They are both seriously yucky dudes who have made great movies -- I can easily see how someone could confuse them.
posted by Forktine at 8:03 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you have women friends, or daughters, or relatives?

Though I totally agree with your comment, emjaybee, I'd like to emphasize that it's not just people with daughters who should be thinking about this. The 13-year-old in this case was orally and anally raped after Polanski cajoled her into drinking champagne and taking quaaludes. This is not gender-specific.

Now, we could have an interesting general debate about whether the ages of consent in various jurisdictions are too high or low. But I'd hope we can agree that the age of consent should be higher than 13. And I don't think anyone who's familiar with the facts of this specific case (you can read the girl's testimony for free online) would seriously argue that this was just "statutory" rape. The victim repeatedly told him to stop. It was rape, pure and simple.

Anyone with a son or a daughter should think about how they'd feel about this case if it were their child who was the victim.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:04 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


More details from the "Federal Department of Justice and Police".

The US had the opportunity to provide specific requested information, but failed to do so.

The main point is that Switzerland does not only have responsibility towards the US, but towards the perpetrator. Without pre-judging the issue, Switzerland must be satisfied that the person they are extraditing did get and will get fair treatment - whoever it is, and whatever the jurisdiction. And this, the US was unable or unwilling to demonstrate. If the US had wanted to keep this a US-only issue, they shouldn't have let him out in the first place; as it is, the US system of justice as pertaining to this case is also under scrutiny, and found to be lacking.
posted by labberdasher at 8:06 AM on July 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


On preview, I want to respond to the comment one or two people made about "he could have served his time, etc." I don't know if that really would have been better.

Polanski is stigmatized for the rest of his life. Deservedly so. As far as "serving their sentence goes," last year the most popular comedy movie - COMEDY MOVIE- going as far as winning a Golden Globe- was The Hangover. When they went on stage to receive their award, they brought with them one of the cameo players of the movie, Mike Tyson. Who went to jail for beating and raping a woman. And all the talk around that time was how this movie "changed his life."
Speaking backstage at the Golden Globe awards Tyson also reveals how director Todd Phillips convinced him to take the role, joking, "Todd said to me, 'This is going to be the biggest movie, you're going to get so many girls, you'll never see the like of it again."
You're going to get so many girls, guy who went to jail for beating and raping a woman.

I'm not sure why I should be more angry at a guy who "got away" with rape when the entire industry and pop culture machine is praising a man who actually didn't.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:08 AM on July 12, 2010


Brutal decision. Anywhere this dude goes, a extradition request should follow. Plus, actors and actresses and producers should not work with him.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:09 AM on July 12, 2010


Sometimes being rich enables you to overcome injustice. That's privilege too, but "good" privilege - in the sense that, in an ideal world, everybody would overcome injustice, and not the other way around. "Bad" privilege is doing something that nobody should do. Not everybody agrees on which privilege is this.
posted by Baldons at 8:11 AM on July 12, 2010


On preview, I want to respond to the comment one or two people made about "he could have served his time, etc." I don't know if that really would have been better.

Persons should be punished for their crimes. No matter what, the underlying offense aside (and what an underlying offense it is!), it is a crime to run from justice. He had exactly zero right to do that. For that, first and foremost, he must be punished. He chose to move here and live amongst us and under the protection of our laws. The corallary of that is that you are agreeing to be subject to our laws.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:11 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


the vast majority of Catholic priests have never molested anyone

I'm pretty sure conspiracy to commit rape and accessories after the fact to rape are also illegal.


I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of Catholic priests have never been involved in conspiracy to commit rape and being an accessory after the fact.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:14 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia provides an interview with an Italian science fiction writer as the sole source for this claim. So ... no, I'm not going to believe that.

The science fiction writer is more of a historian of revolutionary movements; he's quite convincing. Here is a FAQ for the Battisti case made by him and others. It's in italian, but you can Google Translate it. Sorry for the off-topic.
posted by Baldons at 8:15 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sometimes being rich enables you to overcome injustice.

You keep talking about injustice. Please explain this. I would like to know where you see the injustice in this situation, when he pled guilty to drugging and raping a child and then fled to avoid his punishment. Do you think that people who plead guilty to these kinds of crimes should not be punished? Or do you disagree with the USA's attempts to extradite? Both? Something else I am not seeing?
posted by elizardbits at 8:21 AM on July 12, 2010


it is a crime to run from justice

Honest question: is it? Is it so everywhere? I read once that italian criminals who escaped prisons could be charged for damages incurred during the escape, but that fleeing wasn't a crime in and of itself.
posted by Baldons at 8:21 AM on July 12, 2010


That's a crazy decision.
posted by Mister_A at 8:22 AM on July 12, 2010


If you have a stack of New Yorkers laying about/a subscription to the online service or access to a library with back-issues, do yourself a favor and read this article. It's one of the best and even-handed examinations of the Polanski case I've ever read. Which is saying something when the subject winds up looking like a horrible human being at the end of an even-handed examination.
posted by griphus at 8:25 AM on July 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


labberdasher's link is fascinating and vital to the discussion:

In the framework of the extradition proceedings, on 3rd March 2010, the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) asked the USA authorities to substantiate the extradition request by supplying the records of a hearing carried out on 26th January 2010 by the public prosecutor, Roger Gunson, who was in charge of the case in the seventies. The records should prove that, in a meeting held on 19th September 1977, the judge in charge at the time had expressly assured the representatives of the parties that the 42 days of detention spent by Roman Polanski in the psychiatric unit of a Californian prison represented the whole term of imprisonment he was condemned to. If this were the case, Roman Polanski would actually have already served his sentence and therefore both the proceedings on which the US extradition request is founded and the request itself would have no foundation.

The request of the FOJ to supply the records was rejected by the US Justice Department on 13th May 2010 due to a court ruling, according to which the records had to be kept secret. In these circumstances it is not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty that Roman Polanski has already served the sentence he was condemned to at the time and that the extradition request is undermined by a serious fault. Considering the persisting doubts concerning the presentation of the facts of the case, the request has to be rejected.


It thus appears that Switzerland views the original plea bargain as binding and rejected the extradition request (at least officially) because of the Judge's subsequent backpedaling prior to sentencing and the refusal of the US to provide records that would clarify whether Polanski would in fact face a prison term based on the plea if extradited.
posted by The Bellman at 8:27 AM on July 12, 2010 [16 favorites]


Point taken, jaltcoh. It wouldn't be any different if it had been a young boy.
posted by emjaybee at 8:27 AM on July 12, 2010


The US routinely strong-arms and threatens Swiss banks, including threatening to arrest any of their employees who enters the US.

This is hilarious. How dare the US strong-arm those poor banks who routinely and systematically facilitate the evasion of tax laws!

And there are plenty of US employees of Swiss banks--UBS and Credit Suisse have massive investment banking operations here. Maybe our regulators ought to pay some extra attention to those banks until Polanski shows up in the US.
posted by mullacc at 8:27 AM on July 12, 2010


“If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… fucking, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to fuck young girls. Juries want to fuck young girls. Everyone wants to fuck young girls!
-Roman Polanski
Someone who was close to 13 at the time said that the 70s in America felt like open season on young women. Anyone who signed the "Free Roman Polanski" petition needs a smack upside the head. (Personal LJ link)

Stay classy, Switzerland.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:27 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


You keep talking about injustice. Please explain this.

I was talking in abstract. About pleading guilty, people sometimes plead guilty for strategic reasons in the context of their trial. I'm not saying he's not guilty, but to me that's not the red flag many seem to believe. The case was invalidated, to me, by the behavior of Rittenband. His disregard of previous agreements cemented in Polanski the idea that injustice would be served. So he did the sensible thing, and fleed from a country that I love, but that is also a bit obsessed with control and vengeance.
posted by Baldons at 8:31 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure why I should be more angry at a guy who "got away" with rape when the entire industry and pop culture machine is praising a man who actually didn't.

Because Mike Tyson served his time and fulfilled the requirements of his parole. He was punished and as far as any of us know, rehabilitated. Like it or not, this makes him a more upstanding and trustworthy citizen than Roman Polanski.
posted by billyfleetwood at 8:32 AM on July 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


Quick question: can anyone cite a real person (preferably prominent, or perhaps otherwise sensible) who made/makes the explicit arguement "RP should not be punished because he made/makes great movies"? Just curious.
posted by MarshallPoe at 8:35 AM on July 12, 2010


I'm not sure why I should be more angry at a guy who "got away" with rape when the entire industry and pop culture machine is praising a man who actually didn't.

That's ludicrisp!
posted by norm at 8:36 AM on July 12, 2010


Ok, he should be tarred and feathered, we get it. Does anyone have anything new to contribute?
posted by Melismata at 8:38 AM on July 12, 2010


I will still eat Toblerone, but I will do so grudgingly.
posted by mazola at 8:39 AM on July 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of Catholic priests have never been involved in conspiracy to commit rape and being an accessory after the fact.

That explains all those priests that seized the Pope recently and handed him over for prosecution oh wait
posted by DU at 8:40 AM on July 12, 2010


A lot of people seem to be taking at face value the Swiss claim that they denied extradition due to the U.S.'s failure to provide documentation. I guess I'm just cynical, but to me this reads as a sham excuse to cover a primarily political decision to let Polanski go. I think the Swiss government quickly came to decide that they weren't going to extradite, and waited for a period of time to announce his release on a technicality.

Is there anything about the history and handling of this case that is a mystery? Hasn't pretty much every relevant fact been released into the public domain over time, either through books or interviews or articles? I'm not sure what the Swiss felt they could find in these court documents that they didn't already know.

I can't help but think that the recent scrap between the IRS and UBS over tax evasion played a major role in this. (Last year, the Swiss government took the very unpopular step of releasing to the IRS confidential banking information on U.S. citizens suspected of using their Swiss accounts to facilitate tax evasion.) Domestically, I don't think the government saw too much upside in sending Polanski back to the U.S. - it would just look like yet another capitulation to the "bully" U.S.

It's just sad, really. Yet again, Polanski escapes justice through his wealth, prestige and a little luck, and he'll probably die a fugitive.
posted by thewittyname at 8:41 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Quick question: can anyone cite a real person (preferably prominent, or perhaps otherwise sensible) who made/makes the explicit arguement "RP should not be punished because he made/makes great movies"? Just curious.
We have learned the astonishing news of Roman Polanski's arrest by the Swiss police on September 26th, upon arrival in Zurich (Switzerland) while on his way to a film festival where he was due to receive an award for his career in filmmaking.

His arrest follows an American arrest warrant dating from 1978 against the filmmaker, in a case of morals.

Filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision. It seems inadmissible to them that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers, is used by the police to apprehend him.

By their extraterritorial nature, film festivals the world over have always permitted works to be shown and for filmmakers to present them freely and safely, even when certain States opposed this.

The arrest of Roman Polanski in a neutral country, where he assumed he could travel without hindrance, undermines this tradition: it opens the way for actions of which no-one can know the effects.

Roman Polanski is a French citizen, a renown and international artist now facing extradition. This extradition, if it takes place, will be heavy in consequences and will take away his freedom.

(signed: Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Fanny Ardant, Asia Argento, Olivier Assayas, Monica Bellucci, Patrice Chéreau, Luc et Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Jonathan Demme, Costa Gavras, Terry Gilliam, Wong Kar Waï, Jan Kounen, Emir Kusturica, John Landis, David Lynch, Tonie Marshall, Radu Mihaileanu, Jeanne Moreau, Yasmina Reza, Barbet Schroeder, Ettore Scola, Martin Scorsese, Tilda Swinton, Giuseppe Tornatore, Wim Wenders, et al)
Quibble with the language, but it sure reads like what you're asking for to me. source
posted by norm at 8:43 AM on July 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


I was talking in abstract.

Ok, thank you for explaining your point.
posted by elizardbits at 8:46 AM on July 12, 2010


I guess I'm just cynical, but to me this reads as a sham excuse to cover a primarily political decision to let Polanski go.

I thought back when he was arrested last year that that was political, too. Why arrest him now? Maybe they wanted to bargain with the US about the tax evasion stuff. Then they changed idea, or realized they wouldn't get anything in exchange.
posted by Baldons at 8:47 AM on July 12, 2010


Quick question: can anyone cite a real person (preferably prominent, or perhaps otherwise sensible) who made/makes the explicit arguement "RP should not be punished because he made/makes great movies"? Just curious.

The French
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:50 AM on July 12, 2010


mediareport and mikeh, could you please the f*** not mess up this simple feel-bad story with the suggestion that there is perhaps some nuance to be considered? There's only one correct way to read this story and there's only ever been one way. Roman Polanski is the Big Bad Wolf and the rest of us are all Little Red Riding Hood.
posted by philip-random at 8:52 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ok, thank you for explaining your point.

Did you keep reading the rest of my comment or did you just peek at the first phrase, determined that you were right, and proceeded to write this reply?
posted by Baldons at 8:53 AM on July 12, 2010


Did you keep reading the rest of my comment or did you just peek at the first phrase, determined that you were right, and proceeded to write this reply?

Uh, no, I determined that I was wrong for wondering if you thought rapists should walk free, but thanks for that assumption.
posted by elizardbits at 8:58 AM on July 12, 2010


Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey:

Quick question: can anyone cite a real person (preferably prominent, or perhaps otherwise sensible) who made/makes the explicit arguement "RP should not be punished because he made/makes great movies"? Just curious.

The French


Well, not even a close reading of the biased headline says that, but thanks for playing.

Believe it or not, is possible to think Roman Polanski is a talented film maker, feel sympathy for him for the horrible things that he has happened to him in his life, is completely guilty of a monsterous crime, and should have gone on the run given the shafting he was given by the American justice system.

But doing all of that at once requires a lot of subtlety and even the best communities for online discourse (i.e. here) doesn't always get that depth.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:59 AM on July 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


Hear hear, MCMikeNamara!!
posted by Melismata at 9:02 AM on July 12, 2010


Why arrest him now?

Because now is when he crossed the border from France to Switzerland?
posted by me & my monkey at 9:05 AM on July 12, 2010


I think The Bellman nailed it. When I read the "It was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the US extraditionary request" it seemed obvious the US had fucked up something and given what they fucked up, I'm okay with the Swiss decision.
posted by dobbs at 9:06 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Artists who didn't sign the "Free Polanski" Petition:
Kevin Smith
Jewel
Sherri Shepherd
Bill Maher
Kirstie Alley
Luc Besson
Howard Stern
Lost writer Javi Grillo-Marxuach
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:07 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Uh, no, I determined that I was wrong for wondering if you thought rapists should walk free, but thanks for that assumption.


Uh-oh, I thought you were being sarcastic. I apologize.
posted by Baldons at 9:08 AM on July 12, 2010


For those of you still arguing that Polanski should get one free child rape based on his own sad backstory--"Ever see The Pianist? Several scenes in that movie were based on his childhood. A little sympathy, perhaps?"--you realize that a healthy percentage of people who commit the vilest crimes possible have had the kind of childhoods that would make you cry yourself to sleep just thinking about it, right? They're not necessarily rich, talented, attractive, and white, though.

As for those of you who believe the state of California should drop its case based on the forgiveness of his victim (who may just be tired of the endless publicity involved in legal maneuverings at this point more than anything else)--do you also think the state shouldn't prosecute violent acts of domestic violence if the victim tells you the guy is really, really sorry and she wish she hadn't called the police?
posted by availablelight at 9:09 AM on July 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


Because now is when he crossed the border from France to Switzerland?

He had a house in Switzerland. He'd been there many times before, I believe - correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by Baldons at 9:11 AM on July 12, 2010


mediareport and mikeh, could you please the f*** not mess up this simple feel-bad story with the suggestion that there is perhaps some nuance to be considered?

Ha. It gets even worse, philip-random, when you actually bother to read the link labberdasher posted, which The Bellman helpfully excerpts above, and which I thank them both for. Here's the relevant bit again:

The records should prove that, in a meeting held on 19th September 1977, the judge in charge at the time had expressly assured the representatives of the parties that the 42 days of detention spent by Roman Polanski in the psychiatric unit of a Californian prison represented the whole term of imprisonment he was condemned to. If this were the case, Roman Polanski would actually have already served his sentence and therefore both the proceedings on which the US extradition request is founded and the request itself would have no foundation.

The request of the FOJ to supply the records was rejected by the US Justice Department on 13th May 2010 due to a court ruling, according to which the records had to be kept secret.


The Bellman's take deserves a repost:

It thus appears that Switzerland views the original plea bargain as binding and rejected the extradition request (at least officially) because of the Judge's subsequent backpedaling prior to sentencing and the refusal of the US to provide records that would clarify whether Polanski would in fact face a prison term based on the plea if extradited.
posted by mediareport at 9:12 AM on July 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


do you also think the state shouldn't prosecute violent acts of domestic violence if the victim tells you the guy is really, really sorry and she wish she hadn't called the police?

What's the threat of coercion now, in Polanski's case?
posted by Baldons at 9:12 AM on July 12, 2010


do you also think the state shouldn't prosecute violent acts of domestic violence if the victim tells you the guy is really, really sorry and she wish she hadn't called the police?

What's the threat of coercion now, in Polanski's case?


As mentioned upstream, it sets a dangerous precedent to allow "forgiveness from the victim" to trump "the state's right to prosecute violent crime"--beyond coercion and fear, there's also the threat of victims being bought off by perps or family members (as some more cynical imagine is the case here, with the settlement paid to Polanski's victim), or the simple fact that, especially in sexual assault cases, the process of prosecution can be so onerous to the victim that many ALREADY decline to report/participate.
posted by availablelight at 9:17 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because now is when he crossed the border from France to Switzerland?

He had a house in Switzerland. He'd been there many times before, I believe - correct me if I'm wrong.


The international warrant was only issued in 2005 (one source).
The organisers of the Zürich Film Festival were simply less discreet than other people in similar situations.
posted by labberdasher at 9:20 AM on July 12, 2010


I think attempting to try and imprison for a crime committed decades ago, over the objections of the victim, is just bloodymindedness.

There are a lot of grown men who were molested by priests decades ago. Many of them would rather not be publicly identified as guys who got raped, or go through a trial. So I guess you think these priests shouldn't be prosecuted either, even if they admit guilt or if there is other evidence?

Seriously, think through your logic. Statutory rape is not just about consent, but also about overwhelming and dominating the victim, and messing with their heads drastically. Do you think "But s/he liked it!" should be a valid defense?
posted by msalt at 9:32 AM on July 12, 2010


What's the threat of coercion now, in Polanski's case?

There are all sorts of threats of coercion now. Polanski's team has communicated with the girl, we know, because they paid her off. They could have said "We will fight this in court every step of the way and make sure you're in the paper every day." They could have threatened to reveal humiliating facts about the events, or claim that she loved it and was a freak and begged him to come back. They could have simply threatened to kill her, or murmured something about bad things happening to people. And of course positive coercion; "we'll pay you a million dollars as soon as this all goes away."

What makes you think there is no coercion of the girl?
posted by msalt at 9:39 AM on July 12, 2010


Ugh. Fuck Switzerland. The country where women didn't get the vote until 1971, and even that wasn't universal until 1990.

The idea that some people think 90 days of prison is somehow sufficient for child rape (or any rape, for that matter) is sickening.
posted by kmz at 9:40 AM on July 12, 2010


The records should prove that, in a meeting held on 19th September 1977, the judge in charge at the time had expressly assured the representatives of the parties that the 42 days of detention spent by Roman Polanski in the psychiatric unit of a Californian prison represented the whole term of imprisonment he was condemned to.

I believe I commented on this in a previous Polanski thread, pointing out that if you genuinely want to know the ins + outs of this thing, there's no better place to start than the documentary film ROMAN POLANSKI - WANTED + DESIRED. Accuse of it of pro-Polanski bias all you want, it's nevertheless rich with relevant case specific info, unlike much of the commentary in this thread.

That said, I can definitely feel some of the anti-Polanski frustration. Fact is, that deal he cut way back when was awfully rosy for a guy who had admittedly seduced, drugged and raped a thirteen year old child. But then, of course, things get way more complicated. Because (yes, it's worth repeating), the only reason Polanksi even fled the country was because the judge in charge of the case went back on his word. I can only speak for myself here but if I was in some kind of mess with the powers-that-be and they suddenly started treating their own assurances as essentially meaningless, I'd do everything I could to get the hell out of their jurisdiction. And fast.
posted by philip-random at 9:42 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


The judge didn't go back on his word, since Polanski fled before sentencing. Polanski claimed he was afraid the judge would go back on his word.

All the talk about Polanski's childhood in WWII Poland is only interesting in the context of why he fled in the 1970s -- and why he never returned to clean it all up. At the time of his sentencing, RP ran because he couldn't be 101% assured that he would get the plea bargain agreed to. And last year, he refused to show up in L.A. for a quick, painless dismissal because he couldn't be 101% assured that he would get it. As a childhood victim of repressive and corrupt regimes, the adult Polanski wanted the assurance of judicial results that only an illegitimate regime can provide.

Our justice system isn't set up for guaranteed results. Only in corrupt societies (supposedly) can one guarantee a judicial outcome before it occurs, via payoffs or whatever. But in the U.S., there's no such thing as a hard-and-fast plea-bargain contract. Then again, I'm also not aware of any high-profile (or even low-profile) bait-and-switch or "gotcha" case in the past several decades where a defendant was promised a deal by the Los Angeles D.A., then had it revoked before (or by) the judge, for no reason other than perversity or political gain.

So for me, the above + the arrogance of the rich & famous = an explanation. But not an excuse, of course. Which is why it's important to re-link to the list of twits who signed a petition that they either (a) didn't read first, or (b) mistakenly thought was part of the daily ass-kissing/log-rolling required to maintain (or resurrect) their Hollywood career. If any of those signers have, upon reflection, revoked their support for Polanski, I would love to hear about it -- and I promise to immediately purchase a DVD of their best/worst work. (Yes, even Wim Wenders.)
posted by turducken at 9:47 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are a lot of grown men who were molested by priests decades ago. Many of them would rather not be publicly identified as guys who got raped, or go through a trial. So I guess you think these priests shouldn't be prosecuted either, even if they admit guilt or if there is other evidence?

I think attempting to try and imprison for a crime committed decades ago, over the objections of the victim, is just bloodymindedness.
posted by Mooski at 9:53 AM on July 12, 2010


If any of those signers have, upon reflection, revoked their support for Polanski, I would love to hear about it

She isn't on that list but Emma Thompson signed then revoked.
posted by shinybaum at 9:54 AM on July 12, 2010


it is a crime to run from justice

Honest question: is it? Is it so everywhere? I read once that italian criminals who escaped prisons could be charged for damages incurred during the escape, but that fleeing wasn't a crime in and of itself.


Its called flight to avoid prosecution. It is thoroughly illegal in the United States.

There are a lot of grown men who were molested by priests decades ago. Many of them would rather not be publicly identified as guys who got raped, or go through a trial. So I guess you think these priests shouldn't be prosecuted either, even if they admit guilt or if there is other evidence?

I think attempting to try and imprison for a crime committed decades ago, over the objections of the victim, is just bloodymindedness.


There are societal interests above and beyond those of the victims. It is unfortunate, but I suspect you would agree with me that someone who doesn't want to testify against someone who murdered their family doesn't get the say when there could be others killed.

There are two disctinct crimes, one against the victim, the other against the State of California for failure to appear. The victim in the first crime has nothing to say about the second crime.

It is wrong for people to avoid justice that they themselves have pled out to.


There is exactly zero basis, as far as I can tell, for not appearing because you think the judge is going to go against some prior agreement. The place to fight that out is the courts.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:58 AM on July 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


First Nazi gold, then Nestlé baby milk, and now this.
posted by acb at 9:59 AM on July 12, 2010


-you realize that a healthy percentage of people who commit the vilest crimes possible have had the kind of childhoods that would make you cry yourself to sleep just thinking about it, right?

And that most people who survived terrible childhoods don't become child rapists?

I got a gentle but pointed lesson from a friend who had an abusive childhood once when I talked about the boyfriend that was abusive to me in the "he never had a chance, what with how he grew up," kinda way. My friend is pretty offended by the idea that someone should get a pass on behavior as "caused" by traumatic childhood events when he, and so many others, managed not to become criminals or sociopaths (and my friend didn't have the advantage of counseling to reflect on it until MUCH later in life - he muddled through, not hurting anyone).
posted by Pax at 10:00 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


She isn't on that list but Emma Thompson signed then revoked.

The Tall Guy it is, then.
posted by turducken at 10:00 AM on July 12, 2010


From everything read, I believe RP was guilty of the crimes he's been accused of.

But to me, it is a very interesting contrast with the recent thread on the Oscar Grant murder, where the cop got away with a slap on the wrist.

In the case of the cop, I also believe he committed murder in the first. But, it is not about what I or anyone believes. It is not even about the wishes of the victims or their families - the RP victim wants to forgive and forget, the Oscar Grant family feels justice has not been served.

What it is about is the law. And it is also about justice and corruption. Justice was not served in either case, in my opinion. In the case of RP, the original laws which covered his crime, did not reflect the harm such crimes cause (partly because crimes against women were not as clearly prioritized). Those laws have now been amended, and had RP committed those crimes today, he'd be (rightly) in much deeper trouble. Sadly, the laws in the case of Oscar Grant, still need amending - a cop should not be able to get away with a slap on the wrist, as he did here.

And yet, people quickly rush to condemn the injustice in the case of RP - rightly so - but are somehow refuse to do so in the case of the cop. A big part of the argument is "it's the law" - but what if the trail had been corrupt? Those who point to RP as pleading "guilty" - well, you can throw that one right out, because the only reason he pled guilty is because of the plea bargain; you go back on the deal, the strength of his guilty plea goes away too (again, I believe he was guilty).

Now we are told the cop got away with a slap on the wrist, because of procedure and that's how out court system and laws work. Never mind the injustice. Fine. I guess those of us who feel a great injustice has been done, as well as his family, have to just eat it - that's the recommendation. I guess then, whatever injustice we feel wrt. RP, well, since the Swiss justice system found our request flawed, well, we have to eat it too. I wonder if the cop defenders "it's how it goes", also will step in to defend the RP decision of the Swiss, since that's how their law goes.

That's why merely following the laws and procedures is not enough to say that justice has been served. Not in the case of RP. BUT ALSO not in the case of the vicious cop who murdered Oscar Grant.

Incidentally, while we can complain about U.S. extradition wishes being thwarted, it's too bad we don't note this:

"Through a letter to the U.N., the Bush administration has reserved the right of the U.S. to ignore decisions and orders issued by the International Criminal Court. The action effectively neutralizes President Clinton's signature to the treaty creating the court."
posted by VikingSword at 10:15 AM on July 12, 2010


the only reason Polanksi even fled the country was because the judge in charge of the case went back on his word. I can only speak for myself here but if I was in some kind of mess with the powers-that-be and they suddenly started treating their own assurances as essentially meaningless, I'd do everything I could to get the hell out of their jurisdiction. And fast.

This is not a legal reason for fleeing a jurisdiction. No legal excuse to flee prosecution exists for "the judge going back on his word." It is therefore a crime. Any remedy for issues surrounding a plea agreement is in the courts themselves.

Therefore, he should be arrested and face justice for failure to appear and flight to avoid prosecution. These are plain facts. It matters not that the judge was going to, should have, could have went back on his word. It is, plain and simple, a crime to flee prosecution. There is no justification for it. None. Seriously, this lawyer wonders what is his case when he gets back to U.S. justice? Gee I raped someone, plead out and was going to have a deal where I served a short time in a mental hospital?. No movie is going to convince me that one has the basic right to avoid the law. Roman Polanski simply lacked the legal right to do what he did. That is first-year, black-letter law.

Regardless of the underlying offense, (which from all reports, was terrible), the man is a criminal. Justice must be served.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:15 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Friend of mine just send me this:

"I'm sorry, but when you plead guilty and then flee the country, I don't think another country has the right to say you don't have to go do your time because of missing paperwork."
posted by new brand day at 10:18 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wealth and fame will buy you out of a lot of bad situations, and there is only justice for those who can afford it. I've seen wealthy people take less-wealthy people to court, and destroy the defendant through economic terrorism. You want to think that it's a fair world, do so at your own peril. That this situation should surprise anyone, well, I suggest putting down your mouse, turning off your screen, and taking a trip to a third-world country, in order for a sobering lesson on the power of the almighty dollar/euro/sheckel.
posted by dbiedny at 10:31 AM on July 12, 2010


"Anal rape"

Pretty much any argument anyone can make for Polanski can be refuted in those two words, no more are really needed. If only more debates were this simple.
posted by Cosine at 10:32 AM on July 12, 2010


And I can sum up my response to Cosine in ONE word: "Whatever!"
posted by ReeMonster at 10:35 AM on July 12, 2010


This is not a legal reason for fleeing a jurisdiction. No legal excuse to flee prosecution exists for "the judge going back on his word." It is therefore a crime. Any remedy for issues surrounding a plea agreement is in the courts themselves.

Ironmouth, so the same courts that have gone back on their word are also the only remedy for resolving that deception? Ever read a book called Catch-22? I agree that, legally speaking, your argument makes perfect sense. I guess I just don't share your belief in the inherent "correctness" of the American (or any) legal system.

Every legal system, when you break it down, is no more and no less than a complexity of guidelines, precedents, manipulations and ongoing arguments. All fine and dandy to view this from an abstract distance and claim something along the lines of, "Well it may be imperfect but it sure beats anarchy." But what happens when it's suddenly you caught in the middle of some byzantine convolution with your very freedom (or perhaps life) in the balance? Me, I hope I'd have the guts to find my inner-anarchist and act accordingly.
posted by philip-random at 10:36 AM on July 12, 2010


It matters not that the judge was going to, should have, could have went back on his word. It is, plain and simple, a crime to flee prosecution.

Right. But other countries may not feel this way. They may feel that if a judge agrees to a pb deal, he can't then refuse to uphold his part of the bargain, yet demand that the other party hold up their (guilty plea). Quite some way to conduct business. Let's make a deal. I'm supposed to pay you $X for your car. Now, I don't pay you, but I still demand you hand over the car. And you are not allowed to simply not hand over the car - the idea is that "hand it over, and then you are welcome to dispute this deal in a court of law and take your chances".

Now, you may feel that's just fine. Other countries won't. We also don't feel a great deal of need to accede to the wishes of justice systems we deem inadequate - which is why we refuse to hand over to Cuba terrorists who live on our soil but committed crimes in and against Cuba. Same here - maybe other countries are not impressed with our justice system which allows plea bargaining to be disregarded at will by one side and then still demand that the defendant present themselves for "justice" in such a corrupt system.
posted by VikingSword at 10:41 AM on July 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth, so the same courts that have gone back on their word are also the only remedy for resolving that deception? Ever read a book called Catch-22?

No. The appeals court is the remedy. But if you want to call all the courts "the same courts" then yes. Why what other court would there be? We have a legal system. This is how it works. It is not perfect. However, we do not give individuals the right to decide their own cases.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:41 AM on July 12, 2010


he should be arrested and face justice for failure to appear and flight to avoid prosecution

As long as that's compatible with applicable law, which, might I remind you, is not necessarily U.S. law.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:43 AM on July 12, 2010


It is, plain and simple, a crime to flee prosecution. There is no justification for it.

Nit: in other cases, the prosecution is itself a human rights violation, and there can be eminently reasonable reasons to support flight in the face of such prosecution and to deny extradition for the supposed crimes.

Regardless of the underlying offense, (which from all reports, was terrible), the man is a criminal. Justice must be served.

You're seriously asserting that if someone flees Saudi Arabia for the US in the face of prosecution for homosexuality, the US should extradite them back? Or if someone flees Thailand in the face of prosecution for disparaging the king?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:44 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pretty much any argument anyone can make for Polanski can be refuted in those two words, no more are really needed.

only if you are looking to emotionally, not factually win arguments of complicated judicial matters.
posted by nadawi at 10:49 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let's look at the actual facts, not what was in a movie or anything else:

Page 12 of the hearing transcript at which Polanski pled guilty:
MR. GUNSON: Who do you think will determine whether sentence will be a felony or a misdemeanor?

THE DEFENDANT: The Judge.

MR. GUNSON: Do you understand at this time, the Court has not made an decision as to what sentence you will receive?

THE DEFENDANT: (No response.)

MR. GUNSON: Do you understand that the Judge has not made any decision?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes.

MR. GUNSON: Further, do you realize that this Court will not make an decision regarding probation and sentence until after it has read and considered the report and recommendation that will be prepared and sent to it by the Probation Department? And after it has heard the argument of your attorney and the argument of the prosecutor; --

THE DEFENDANT: Yes.

MR. GUNSON:--do you understand that?

Mr. Polanski, do you understand that at the time of probation and sentencing, the prosecutor may argue that you should be sentenced to State Prison, or be incarcerated in the County Jail?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
Let us now set aside any talk that Polanski had any "deal" with the judge. There never is and can be such a deal. The Judge was free, by law, to impose any sentence within the legal range. Polanski,. represented by counsel, pled guilty fully aware of that. There is no question of the "strength" of any plea deal.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:50 AM on July 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


You're seriously asserting that if someone flees Saudi Arabia for the US in the face of prosecution for homosexuality, the US should extradite them back? Or if someone flees Thailand in the face of prosecution for disparaging the king?

There are national laws, supported by international treaties, protecting the rights of countries to provide asylum to certain recognized classes of persecuted people ("refugees"). If Switzerland designates child rapists as refugees I think you might have a point. Otherwise, your hypothetical is easily distinguishable from actual factual situations.
posted by norm at 10:51 AM on July 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Nit: in other cases, the prosecution is itself a human rights violation, and there can be eminently reasonable reasons to support flight in the face of such prosecution and to deny extradition for the supposed crimes.

There is no legal basis for flight in the U.S. legal system under the situation laid out here. None. Human rights are guarenteed within the US by the U.S. and state constitutions. There are no other sources of human rights under US law.

Of course I am speaking only of his legal basis to flee, not any moral basis to flee beyond law. But if you are going to bring morality beyond law into this--I add the following:

The man drugged and had sexual relations with a 12-year old girl.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:55 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can we all just agree that this situation is fucked all around?
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:56 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


only if you are looking to emotionally, not factually win arguments of complicated judicial matters.

This matter seems to be less than complex upon reading of the transcript to the plea.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:56 AM on July 12, 2010


It's bad enough that his movies suck; he shouldn't be allowed to get away with this too.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 10:56 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


In all likelihood, Switzerland require some form of procedural guarantee before extraditing anyone. just like most European countries require some form of "no death penalty" guarantee before extraditing anyone.

So it really doesn't matter whether US law allows a judge to change hes mind regarding a sentencing deal, it's not US law that matters here.

It might even fall under a trivial offense statute if the Swiss courts see the original deal as valid, most countries don't extradite people for minor offenses.
posted by Greald at 11:03 AM on July 12, 2010


maybe other countries are not impressed with our justice system which allows plea bargaining to be disregarded at will by one side and then still demand that the defendant present themselves for "justice" in such a corrupt system.

Again, you do not understand parties. The judge is not a party to the plea bargain. He cannot be bound by it. The Plea is between the state and the defendant. It is enforceable between them. And Polanksi, in open court, agreed to a plea where he was at the mercy of the judge. Just read the transcript. It is unmistakeable.

You can bet also that the plea agreement had an integration clause. That means he can't enforce any alleged agreements outside the agreement. See the Restatement of Contracts (Second) section 213.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:03 AM on July 12, 2010


So the judge is allowed to play games with him? Promising things, without being bound by law to keep them? So at the end he's in the right? Well, Polanski really made the right choice by fleeing. You can moan that it's not right, but it is real.
posted by Baldons at 11:03 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Polanski should not only be charged with sexual assault, but also mental cruelty and abuse for dragging this out for so long after being found guilty. He continues to flout the law and bring pain and suffering to his victim.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:07 AM on July 12, 2010


All fine and dandy to view this from an abstract distance and claim something along the lines of, "Well it may be imperfect but it sure beats anarchy." But what happens when it's suddenly you caught in the middle of some byzantine convolution with your very freedom (or perhaps life) in the balance? Me, I hope I'd have the guts to find my inner-anarchist and act accordingly.

ok, I'm going to put myself in polanski's shoes, then, in order to figure out how I'd feel if it were me:

a judge is going to give me a harsher sentence than 45 days for anally raping a minor after drugging her.

ok, I'm not seeing the justice in fleeing that sentence, even if it were happening to me. let me try again:

the sentence could be as harsh as 50 years.

you know what? considering I should be chemically castrated, I'm a go ahead and take it. Hell, I'm rich. I can get it reduced. The attorneys on both sides of the case have filed a complaint against the judge doing the sentencing, and he was subsequently removed form the case, so I'm sure there will probably even be a mistrial declared and I'll get off scott free.

so no. I do not see Polanski's flight from imprisonment for drugging and anally raping a child as an instance of him having the guts to flee a byzantine convolution.
posted by shmegegge at 11:07 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Baldons, did you read the transcript of the plea allocution, posted above by Ironmouth? Polanski expressly agreed that the judge was not bound by the plea bargain. Them were the rules, he was told, and he said yes to them.

Maybe this is a case of factual information doing nothing to correct erroneous beliefs.
posted by bearwife at 11:10 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


This matter seems to be less than complex upon reading of the transcript to the plea.

only if you think that things said in open court were the entire story. it's pretty provably not that way, but you keep beating that drum.
posted by nadawi at 11:10 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Polanski should not only be charged with sexual assault, but also mental cruelty and abuse for dragging this out for so long after being found guilty. He continues to flout the law and bring pain and suffering to his victim.

The woman forgave him years ago.

Why can't you?
posted by L'OM at 11:14 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


So the judge is allowed to play games with him? Promising things, without being bound by law to keep them? So at the end he's in the right? Well, Polanski really made the right choice by fleeing. You can moan that it's not right, but it is real.

Yes, the judge can do exactly that. What you call playing games, I call a defense attorney trying with soft power and persuasion to get a judge to let his rich client off because it was his only chance. Nobody had a "deal" here. There is no legally enforceable agreement here because (1) the judge cannot make a deal with a defendant, as he is not a party to the action; (2) the can be no consideration between the judge and the defendant and there is none here therefore no enforceable agreement; (3) Polanski, fully aware of that capability, pled guilty AND WAIVED ALL RIGHTS TO CONTEST ANY SENTENCE THE JUDGE MIGHT LAY DOWN to a terrible offense of statutorily raping a then-12 year old girl.

There is no agreement, no contract, no plea deal between a judge and a defendant. Legally, no such agreement can be enforceable. He waived each and every right to contest any of it. Just read the transcript.

This is a person who pled guilty to raping a 12-year old girl at Jack Nicholson's residence. This isn't a gay man trying to get out of Saudi or anything like this. No human rights were violated here. Just because a lot of people tell you something is true in the media does not mean it is. Where is the evidence of this deal? Written down? NOPE. All we have is a full waiver of all his rights.

So people need to stop calling an alleged, unproven, unwritten oral agreement with no consideration between a judge (who is not a party to the action) and a defendant, "a plea deal." There is no such thing in US law and Polanski, represented by counsel, in open court acknowledged that no such deal existed and that he had no right to contest the sentence given him. These are plain facts from the transcript. They are indisputable.

Put another way--If the judge promised all of that and more, it still would not protect Polanski. And Polanski's lawyer knew it was his only long-shot chance. Polanski lacks the right to flee. No such right exists in US law.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:19 AM on July 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


only if you think that things said in open court were the entire story. it's pretty provably not that way, but you keep beating that drum.

what is it that you think was said elsewhere, and between whom? judges are not party to plea agreements, in open court or elsewhere. are you implying that polanski made a deal with the judge outside the court? I'm not sure what precisely you're saying happened.
posted by shmegegge at 11:20 AM on July 12, 2010


Polanski should not only be charged with sexual assault, but also mental cruelty and abuse for dragging this out for so long after being found guilty. He continues to flout the law and bring pain and suffering to his victim.

The woman forgave him years ago.

Why can't you?


I don't think this is about the accuser at all. There is no charge of mental cruelty. This about a flight from a guilty plea of unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under 18, who is not the defendant's wife. Such flight is illegal under all circumstances.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:21 AM on July 12, 2010


I think Polanski should probably have been extradited on principle, although I'm unconvinced what good it would really do after so many years.

But I'm really bothered by the whole emphasis on the "anal rape" part. It's like people seem to think it's so much worse because it's anal, and people are even pulling out words like "sodomized", which I thought we'd abolished after even Texas couldn't keep it illegal anymore.

Why not just call it rape and leave it at that?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:27 AM on July 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


The woman forgave him years ago.

Why can't you?


Because unlike the woman who "forgave" him, Roman Polanski didn't pay me money.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:27 AM on July 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


only if you think that things said in open court were the entire story. it's pretty provably not that way, but you keep beating that drum.

Things said in open court are the entire story. There is no other enforceable right available. There is not a legal leg to stand on here. Any promises made by any party outside of open court are not enforceable and Polanski's attorneys knew that.

Seriously, this dude's PR people have a lot of people believing a lot of things about the law that simply are not true. Your "victim" raped a 12 year old girl after plying her with alcohol and quaaludes. He admitted to so doing in open court and waived his rights under the plea agreement. Regardless of what a movie or PR people tell you, there are no legal rights to flee from an agreement like that. They simply do not exist. The fact that in regular life, people don't like it when people don't keep oral promises (promises we don't know about here), doesn't mean that Polanski has a legal, enforceable right to go back on the plea agreement. He was advised by counsel when he did all of this. Seriously, there is no "deal." Whatever happened with the alleged deal, it isn't enforceable for the reasons noted above.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:28 AM on July 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


There will always be justice. If not in this world, then certainly in the next. He'd have been wiser to deal with his crime in this one.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:29 AM on July 12, 2010


"I'm sorry, but when you plead guilty and then flee the country, I don't think another country has the right to say you don't have to go do your time because of missing paperwork."

I'm sorry, but your friend is incorrect. US jurisdiction does not extend into other countries' jurisdictions.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:35 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


St Alia, you're confusing man's law with God's justice. Not the same.
posted by philip-random at 11:37 AM on July 12, 2010


The Judge was free, by law, to impose any sentence within the legal range. Polanski,. represented by counsel, pled guilty fully aware of that. There is no question of the "strength" of any plea deal.

That does put things in a different light, for me, so thanks for that transcript, Ironmouth.

That still leaves me puzzled as to why the U.S. would not cooperate with the Swiss in actually providing the relevant materials - it makes me suspicious about the legal strength of the U.S. case:

In the framework of the extradition proceedings, on 3rd March 2010, the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) asked the USA authorities to substantiate the extradition request by supplying the records of a hearing carried out on 26th January 2010 by the public prosecutor, Roger Gunson, who was in charge of the case in the seventies. The records should prove that, in a meeting held on 19th September 1977, the judge in charge at the time had expressly assured the representatives of the parties that the 42 days of detention spent by Roman Polanski in the psychiatric unit of a Californian prison represented the whole term of imprisonment he was condemned to. If this were the case, Roman Polanski would actually have already served his sentence and therefore both the proceedings on which the US extradition request is founded and the request itself would have no foundation.

The request of the FOJ to supply the records was rejected by the US Justice Department on 13th May 2010 due to a court ruling, according to which the records had to be kept secret. In these circumstances it is not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty that Roman Polanski has already served the sentence he was condemned to at the time and that the extradition request is undermined by a serious fault. Considering the persisting doubts concerning the presentation of the facts of the case, the request has to be rejected.

posted by VikingSword at 11:38 AM on July 12, 2010


I'm sorry, but your friend is incorrect. US jurisdiction does not extend into other countries' jurisdictions.

That's what extradition essentially is.

The court appears to have ruled in error, if the press release is to be believed. Polanski cannot claim any agreement with the judge because he legally waived those rights. Therefore, there can be no finding that he 'served his time.' The transcript of a later hearing is inadmissible because (1) those rights were waived; (2) it is an unenforceable contract with a non-party to the action: (3) it is an unenforceable contract because there was no consideration (judge receives nothing for his promise to do something--therefore not enforcable); (4) it is an unenforceable contract becasue the parol evidence rule excludes evidence of other agreements (not that these agreements were even between the parties).
posted by Ironmouth at 11:41 AM on July 12, 2010


Most likely, he would have been sentenced to the full 90 days that he was expected to serve in the hospital. Which again, is lighter time than Lindsay Lohan got for violating probation.

Different times, different times. He should have taken the hit in the 70s when we were all seeing this kind of thing through a different lens.

What if someone back in the 70s fled to avoid sentencing on, say, sodomy charges because they were gay? Well now we don't think that way, and we wouldn't feel that justice demands the fugitive be brought to justice. This is the same thing, in reverse.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:41 AM on July 12, 2010


That still leaves me puzzled as to why the U.S. would not cooperate with the Swiss in actually providing the relevant materials - it makes me suspicious about the legal strength of the U.S. case:

uh look to what was said below:

The request of the FOJ to supply the records was rejected by the US Justice Department on 13th May 2010 due to a court ruling, according to which the records had to be kept secret.

The records couldn't be released by law. Nor were they relevant because, again, there can be no enforceable agreement here between the judge and a defendant. therefore not legally relevant.

This is a court side-stepping a decision it did not want to make. A bullshit decision.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:43 AM on July 12, 2010


I don't think this is about the accuser at all. There is no charge of mental cruelty. This about a flight from a guilty plea of unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under 18, who is not the defendant's wife. Such flight is illegal under all circumstances.

That's true, but the US seems obsessed with questions about justice and whether someone deserves the treatment they get, particularly celebrities and poor people. We constantly argue about whether extending welfare benefits or walking on an underwater mortgage might carry moral implications, and we obsess about trials like OJ's, which again is all about the idea of fairness and justice ... purportedly. If there's one thing the people in the US can't stand, that's the idea that someone got something they didn't deserve - this mostly applies to people who don't have much to begin with, or celebrities. We're not so worried about the transfer of wealth to the top 2% or what crimes may have been committed along the way - no, we're worried about violent crimes we can swoon over and gnash our teeth about, so we can gossip and feel better about ourselves, I suppose. We do need some excuse to keep building prisons and enforcing draconian laws, because that's one way we're truly leading the world. I'm not claiming Polanski is right, but I'm not sure why his case is particularly meaningful. Plenty of fugitives go free all the time, but we don't get outraged about it unless it's in the limelight. Look, expending energy and anger on celebrity crime is useless, unless you're really into gossip and feel like nurturing a victim complex.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:46 AM on July 12, 2010


VikingSword: Those who point to RP as pleading "guilty" - well, you can throw that one right out, because the only reason he pled guilty is because of the plea bargain; you go back on the deal, the strength of his guilty plea goes away too (again, I believe he was guilty).

The problem here is that all we have that the judge might have given Polanski harder time is a bunch of eyewitness testimony and hearsay. The judge didn't give Polanski harder time, nor did he have the opportunity to. Polanski nullified the plea bargain by jumping bail. This in no modifies or mitigates the fact that, when presented with physical evidence that would be introduced in trial, Polanski pled guilty.

I guess then, whatever injustice we feel wrt. RP, well, since the Swiss justice system found our request flawed, well, we have to eat it too. I wonder if the cop defenders "it's how it goes", also will step in to defend the RP decision of the Swiss, since that's how their law goes.

Oh, I'll say that the Swiss government is acting in their legal interests in denying extradition on procedural issues. It's a decision that's likely technically correct, but it doesn't mean that the case should be dismissed from the California courts, who IMNSHO are likely now free to give him his request to sentence him in absentia.

phillip-random: But what happens when it's suddenly you caught in the middle of some byzantine convolution with your very freedom (or perhaps life) in the balance?

Well, those are the breaks of entering a guilty plea. But Ironmouth nailed it. The only reason this whole issue came out from under the rug is because Polanski hit the beehive with the hockey-stick by demanding his case be dismissed while flipping the California court system the bird safely from across the Atlantic. Had he not done so, the status quo of no arrest warrant as long as he never passed U.S. Immigration probably would have gone on indefinitely.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:47 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The records couldn't be released by law. Nor were they relevant because, again, there can be no enforceable agreement here between the judge and a defendant. therefore not legally relevant.

Under U.S. law, which has no force in Switzerland except where Swiss law allows it to.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:50 AM on July 12, 2010


The woman forgave him years ago.

Why can't you?


Forgiveness is an irrelevant concept for those of us who were not the victim or her family. I think that it's healthy for victims to find a way to forgive their attackers.

I just don't think that grown men who rape little girls should escape prosecution by escaping to another country. I can't think how this could be a controversial position.

The pathetic thing is that if he'd been prosecuted in 1977, I bet he would've received a whole lot easier of a sentence than if this had occurred and been tried today. The transcripts of the case provide some creepy insight into the mores of the time, which makes me very grateful for progress in how the crime of rape is regarded.
posted by desuetude at 11:50 AM on July 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


That's what extradition essentially is.

Extradition is a friendly agreement that requires treaties, as international law does not recognize such issues and sees sovereignty as paramount. We do not have extradition treaties with a number of different nations, and the ones we do have are not immutable and are reviewed and revised as per local law and the treaty itself. France forbids extradition of its own citizens even by treaty, as does Russia, China, Austria and Japan. So, it's not as simple as you claim. A country with an extradition treaty may deny an extradition request, and the US does not have a lot of recourse except to break the treaty or otherwise put pressure on that country.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:53 AM on July 12, 2010


The records couldn't be released by law. Nor were they relevant because, again, there can be no enforceable agreement here between the judge and a defendant. therefore not legally relevant.

Under U.S. law, which has no force in Switzerland except where Swiss law allows it to.


And this is a situation where Swiss law would allow it to. The press release says that the basis was the fact that they couldn't decide that he had legally served his sentence or not. However, as the allocution above indicates, no "agreement" with a judge is enforceable and even if it was, by the terms of the plea agreement, he waived forever any right to enforce it.

In other words, Swiss law is trying to decide whether he legally served his sentence. No sentence was ever made in this case. There is simply no basis for their decision. Politics. Which is common, even in our Supreme Court.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:54 AM on July 12, 2010


There will always be justice. If not in this world, then certainly in the next. He'd have been wiser to deal with his crime in this one.

Wait, wait, do you get less punishment in the afterlife if you get punished in life? What's the ratio of years in prison on earth to lesser punishment after death?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:54 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mr. Fish at Harpers.org
posted by fartknocker at 11:55 AM on July 12, 2010


Because unlike the woman who "forgave" him, Roman Polanski didn't pay me money.

The scare quotes suggest you think she was bought off, and that there is something ungenuine about her forgiveness.

She was a rape victim. Now she's a liar who is open to bribes?

Is there any reason to re-victimize this woman with baseless accusations?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:56 AM on July 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


A country with an extradition treaty may deny an extradition request, and the US does not have a lot of recourse except to break the treaty or otherwise put pressure on that country.


Of course. However, this was a bullshit decision, if the Swiss court's press release is to be understood, as explained above. He has no basis for an argument that he served a sentence that was never even laid down. He could have been sentenced to the short amount of time. But the sentence was never given by the judge.

So then how can the Swiss argue they didn't have the transcript of a hearing that would have proved he served his sentence under US law? The Swiss aren't making a determination of sentencing under their law. They are making it under US law. This is really basic.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:58 AM on July 12, 2010


But what happens when it's suddenly you caught in the middle of some byzantine convolution with your very freedom (or perhaps life) in the balance?

Aren't we talking about RP? If you get into this sort of situation because you raped a kid, maybe you should just shrug and realize that this massive Orwellian threat to your freedom that might result in a few month's jail time and pretty much no impact on your livelihood or (it seems) other people's regard for you is a pretty damn sweet deal.

Unlike, you know, the deal the kid got, which was to be raped.
posted by emjaybee at 11:58 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


She was a rape victim. Now she's a liar who is open to bribes?

I agree with your general tack, but honestly, violent felonies do not require the consent of the victim to prosecute, although it's very helpful and can be difficult otherwise. Even if she has forgiven, it doesn't resolve the issue of the state vs. Polanski.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:59 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


What a mess. It does look like the Swiss may have mishandled the RP case. Though I think probably more people would be sympathetic to the U.S. extradition request, if the U.S. was more willing to invest in the whole concept of international law, as extradition necessarily hinges on different legal systems cooperating. Instead, the U.S. appears contemptuous of the very concept of an international court, but yet cries bitterly when they don't get their way:

"The United States is not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC is a permanent international criminal court, founded in 2002 to investigate and prosecute individuals suspected of having committed genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
As of April 2010, 111 states are members of the Court,[1] and a further 38 countries have signed but not ratified the Rome Statute that established the court.[1] Countries such as India, Indonesia, and China have not signed or ratified the Rome Statute.[1] The United States is in the unique position of having signed the Rome Statute, but formally withdrawn its current intention of ratification.
Positions in the United States concerning the ICC vary widely. The Clinton Administration signed the Rome Statute in 2000, but did not submit it for Senate ratification. The Bush Administration, the US administration at the time of the ICC's founding, stated that it would not join the ICC."

posted by VikingSword at 12:00 PM on July 12, 2010


To be clear, Ironmouth (and not to take the take the brief for Polanski, but only to explore the implication of your position) what you argue is true for all plea agreements, isn't it? Under your understanding of the law, would there ever be a time when a defendant would be able to rely on the government's side of a plea deal being upheld?
posted by tyllwin at 12:02 PM on July 12, 2010


So then how can the Swiss argue they didn't have the transcript of a hearing that would have proved he served his sentence under US law? The Swiss aren't making a determination of sentencing under their law. They are making it under US law. This is really basic.

Hmmm ... OK, I'm not a lawyer, but I always find it fascinating when people far outside the case have tried it in their own heads and are certain nobody else got it right but them. It's so easy!
posted by krinklyfig at 12:02 PM on July 12, 2010


I agree with your general tack, but honestly, violent felonies do not require the consent of the victim to prosecute, although it's very helpful and can be difficult otherwise. Even if she has forgiven, it doesn't resolve the issue of the state vs. Polanski.

I agree. I have no issue with Polanski being prosecuted, and think he should be. I am merely stating a preference that we not presume there is some sinister or selfish motivation in the victims forgiveness.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:02 PM on July 12, 2010


In other words, Swiss law is trying to decide whether he legally served his sentence. No sentence was ever made in this case. There is simply no basis for their decision. Politics. Which is common, even in our Supreme Court.

For what it's worth, this wasn't a judicial opinion, but a decision by the Swiss prosecutors not to pursue the extradition.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:02 PM on July 12, 2010


IMNSHO and after a bit of research, I think Polanski has likely sufficiently waved his rights to be present at sentencing and the trial should proceed without him. He remains a fugitive and persona non grata as far as U.S. immigration is concerned. It's over and done with, and he can whine all the way up to the Supreme Court that Crosby doesn't apply to him. That's likely in the best interests of everyone involved.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:07 PM on July 12, 2010


The scare quotes suggest you think she was bought off, and that there is something ungenuine about her forgiveness.

She was a rape victim. Now she's a liar who is open to bribes?

Is there any reason to re-victimize this woman with baseless accusations?


How do you know what the terms of the settlement agreement were?

How do you know she's not biased by receiving money from him?

"She was a rape victim" -- OK, but that does not mean we need to idealize her as having no conflicting motives ... especially as a basis for arguing that the rapist shouldn't pay the consequences for his crime!
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:10 PM on July 12, 2010


To be clear, Ironmouth (and not to take the take the brief for Polanski, but only to explore the implication of your position) what you argue is true for all plea agreements, isn't it? Under your understanding of the law, would there ever be a time when a defendant would be able to rely on the government's side of a plea deal being upheld?

No.

You mistake the government for the judge. They are two different things. There are no deals with the judge. Ever. He isn't a party.

Polanksi's plea deal is with the State of California (i.e. executive branch). To simplify, Judicial Branch adjudicates prosecution between state and defendant. You can't have a deal with the judge

A plea deal is an enforceable agreement between the state and the defendant. The judge has the right to say yes or no. Here, the plea agreement said that the judge could impose any lawful sentence. Polanksi's position is that he also had an enforceable deal with judge, which is impossible.

First, there is no consideration. Plea deals are enforcable and there are fights all the time over them and other settlement agreements. For a contract to be enforceable, there must be consideration (each party must give something of value). What could Polanski have given of value to the judge? nothing. The plea agreement is between the state and the defendant. State gives up max sentence for not having to fight the trial. Defendant gives up right to fight it all the way for a lesser sentence or pleading to a lesser offense.

Second, whatever rights he might have enforced, he waived at the allocution.

Plea agreements do get set aside for failure of one or the other party to uphold their promises. The cases then go to trial.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:17 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, this wasn't a judicial opinion, but a decision by the Swiss prosecutors not to pursue the extradition.

Got you. So Obama could put the heat on them right off the bat.

Polanski will be on the next flight to Poland anyway.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:18 PM on July 12, 2010


Another thing:

You can't have it both ways.

Either the victim's current mindset is relevant to what the consequences for Polanski should be. Or her mindset is irrelevant.

What is utterly incoherent is to say that her mindset matters but only to the extent that we blind ourselves to the fact that people with a huge financial interest in something often make less-than-pure public statements.

Now, if you want to know my own opinion, I don't think it would matter even if she never got any money from him and truly forgave him with all her heart. If you disagree and feel that it would matter if she forgave him, OK, you're entitled to your opinion. But there would still be some basic facts that you can't sensibly ignore: (a) people can be influenced by money and (b) people's public statements often don't reflect their sincere beliefs.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:20 PM on July 12, 2010


"She was a rape victim" -- OK, but that does not mean we need to idealize her as having no conflicting motives ... especially as a basis for arguing that the rapist shouldn't pay the consequences for his crime!

Choosing not to make unproven assumptions about somebody's motivations -- especially assumptions that cast aspersions on their honesty -- is not the same thing as idealizing somebody.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:20 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


So then how can the Swiss argue they didn't have the transcript of a hearing that would have proved he served his sentence under US law? The Swiss aren't making a determination of sentencing under their law. They are making it under US law. This is really basic.

Hmmm ... OK, I'm not a lawyer, but I always find it fascinating when people far outside the case have tried it in their own heads and are certain nobody else got it right but them. It's so easy!


I'm not looking at the facts, just the legal logic. A bit different. Plus my logic changes if this isn't a court decision. It is more political, but they can't be called out as hard as I would like because the decision is discretionary. Don't see how a court could argue what the prosecution did.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:21 PM on July 12, 2010


Again, why does Polanski get a pass when other famous, wealthy, and unjustly free criminals (Enron, Bush&Co. if that's your thing, Blackwater execs) do not? It can't be just because he made a few movies?

Sure it can. That's why when a bunch of rich, white lacrosse players are alleged to have raped a black women, Metafilter can collectively demand their heads on a platter, because Metafilter is not so much on rich white sports people.

(In fact, some chunks of Mefi, in that case, went to far as to ague that because they were rich, white sports players, falsely imprisoning them would have been metajustice for their privilege.)

Or why when a cop gets a lighter sentance in a murder trial it's an outrage.

Cops and white athletes, ugh. But an artist, a survivor of the Holocaust? Well, the right audience can spend all day making excuses or an artist.

I don't think of Polanski as a child rapist

What else do you call drugging a thirteen year old and raping them?

Agreed. Ever see The Pianist? Several scenes in that movie were based on his childhood. A little sympathy, perhaps?

So being caught up in the Holocaust gives you carte blanche to rape?

But what happens when it's suddenly you caught in the middle of some byzantine convolution with your very freedom (or perhaps life) in the balance?

That would suck. But barring, I dunno, a head injury causing a radical personality change, I have a hard time putting myself in Polanski's shoes, because I'm not about to start drug-raping children. Something which, I note, Polanski has never denied - he's not saying "I shouldn't be convicted because I didn't rape a child", but rather, "I shouldn't suffer any meaningful consequences for raping a child."
posted by rodgerd at 12:25 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Choosing not to make unproven assumptions about somebody's motivations -- especially assumptions that cast aspersions on their honesty -- is not the same thing as idealizing somebody.

Astro Zombie, you do not seem to understand what I am saying.

I am not assuming anything about the victim's motivations.

All I am saying is that we should not assume that (1) she has pure motivations, (2) she wasn't at all influenced (even subconsciously) by the money, and (3) the terms of the settlement didn't say anything about what she should or shouldn't say in public.

In order to make the leap that some in this thread have made -- from "She publicly forgave him" to "Polanski shouldn't pay any consequences for his crime" -- you must, at the very least, believe that her forgiveness was sincere and unmotivated by money.

Now, in my opinion, that would still be a terrible argument for other reasons. But there isn't even an issue of whether it's relevant that she "forgave" him, since we have no way to know if she "forgave" him in any normal sense.

If we're trying to think rationally about the actual situation (rather than making emotional appeals), we have to be skeptical about things people say -- even rape victims. That's especially important when there's been a civil settlement, and it's all the more important when the liable party -- the person who was convicted of anally raping the 13-year-old girl -- is a rich celebrity.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:41 PM on July 12, 2010


we should not assume that (1) she has pure motivations,

In fact, that's exactly what we should assume.
posted by Trochanter at 12:44 PM on July 12, 2010


All I am saying is that we should not assume that (1) she has pure motivations, (2) she wasn't at all influenced (even subconsciously) by the money, and (3) the terms of the settlement didn't say anything about what she should or shouldn't say in public.

I now feel the need to jump into this thread to say that this is some pretty disgusting speculation going on here. It reminds me of lawyers bringing up the sexual history of the rape victim in court to cast aspersions on her character. You don't need to prove anything - all you need to do is say "what if?" enough times to start to make people doubt the victim's testimony and motives. She's stated her reasons for forgiving Polanski, and they should be taken at face value. Slimy insinuations about her character and motives don't do anything for the facts in this case, and it's laughable that you talk about "thinking rationally" when all you're offering is empty conjecture.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:47 PM on July 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ah, thank you Ironmouth, because I'd misunderstood you.

I thought you were arguing that a judge was never bound by the deals made by a prosecutor, and could always ignore them once he had the guilty plea in hand. If, instead, the only deal with the prosecutors in this case was that Polanski would get whatever the judge felt like giving him, that's a very different matter. In that case, Polanski, for all practical purposes, never had a deal to begin with.

Supposing, though, for the sale of argument that the judge had, in fact, and before witnesses, given Polanski or his counsel assurances or promises? That doesn't make it legal for Polanski to flee, but isn't that, on its face necessitate an appeals court calling it a mistrial and setting aside the plea?
posted by tyllwin at 12:48 PM on July 12, 2010


All I am saying is that we should not assume that (1) she has pure motivations,

In the absence of evidence to the contrary, yes we should. Otherwise, we cast baseless aspersions on somebody who has already been through enough.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:49 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Supposing, though, for the sale of argument that the judge had, in fact, and before witnesses, given Polanski or his counsel assurances or promises? That doesn't make it legal for Polanski to flee, but isn't that, on its face necessitate an appeals court calling it a mistrial and setting aside the plea?

I'm no expert, but if the judge made any agreement or promise to any party to render a certain sentence, that would be, at best, a violation of judicial ethics and, at worst, grossly illegal, regardless of whether the judge stood by their promise or not. My understanding a judge is never bound by the deals made by the prosecutor. The prosecutor agrees to only seek the sentence that deal deal stipulates, and submits the sentence recommendation to the judge. Judges usually agree with the sentence recommendation from the government, but are not legally obligated to do so. The judge and the government, as represented by the prosecutor, are different parties. The defendant is informed of this (see the transcript Ironmouth linked above) and I imagine if the defendant was not, that could be grounds for appeal.
posted by Snyder at 12:55 PM on July 12, 2010


My understanding a judge is never bound by the deals made by the prosecutor. The prosecutor agrees to only seek the sentence that deal deal stipulates, and submits the sentence recommendation to the judge.

Where I practice, we have two types of pleas, binding and non-binding. Binding require the judge to cap the sentence at what the state asks for, non-binding doesn't. Most pleas are non-binding, but occasionally we do have binding pleas. In a binding plea, the judge will hear the terms of the plea beforehand (and usually ask for some basic info like the defendant's record); the judge then choses whether or not to agree to the binding plea.

In non-binding pleas, judges can and do give sentences in excess of what the state is asking for.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:03 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


She was a rape victim. Now she's a liar who is open to bribes?

What kind of sick sophistry is this? First the victim's alleged forgiveness is used as an argument against the trial and judgment of Polanski, and then those who refuse to accept this moral blackmail - the very ones seeking justice for what happened to the victim and those like her - are suddenly slandering the victim??
posted by eeeeeez at 1:04 PM on July 12, 2010


So Obama could put the heat on them right off the bat.

Who elected Obama federal chancellor of Switzerland?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:04 PM on July 12, 2010


What kind of sick sophistry is this?

I have never once made the case that we should not prosecute Polanski on the basis of the victim's wishes. Please do not conflate the two arguments. There is a way to respond to that argument that doesn't question the victim's motivations and suggest that they should be dismissed because she is on the take. I would that if somebody wishes to argue there is something ungenuine about her forgiveness for Polanski, they be held responsible for actually demonstrating this, rather than simply making references to the amount of money she received.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:16 PM on July 12, 2010


Justice wears a blindfold, but apparently she can hear coins clinking.
posted by Cranberry at 1:30 PM on July 12, 2010


There is a way to respond to that argument that doesn't question the victim's motivations and suggest that they should be dismissed because she is on the take. I would that if somebody wishes to argue there is something ungenuine about her forgiveness for Polanski, they be held responsible for actually demonstrating this, rather than simply making references to the amount of money she received.

First, there are plenty of private reasons why a 13-year old girl would take the settlment monies rather than pursue a case. And there are plenty of reasons why that same woman would not want a trial to go forward today. However, it is OK to point out that her forgiveness has nothing to do with any case involving his flight, and is only one consideration in the State's decision to go forward on the unlawful sexual intercourse case.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:55 PM on July 12, 2010


However, it is OK to point out that her forgiveness has nothing to do with any case involving his flight, and is only one consideration in the State's decision to go forward on the unlawful sexual intercourse case.

AZ is strictly responding to someone using scare quotes around the word "forgive" regarding the victim's choice to forgive polanski. he is not saying polanski shouldn't be prosecuted. his response to the scare quotes, and their implication that the victim is lying or otherwise coerced, is appropriate in that context.
posted by shmegegge at 1:58 PM on July 12, 2010


So Obama could put the heat on them right off the bat.

Who elected Obama federal chancellor of Switzerland?


Obama is President of the United States. He can put pressure on foreign governments. I believe it a good thing to do so to bring back an admitted criminal who used drugs to have sex with a 12 year old girl and then fled rather than face sentencing.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:58 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have repeatedly stated that I think Polanski should be prosecuted, in fact.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:59 PM on July 12, 2010


Ah, thank you Ironmouth, because I'd misunderstood you.

I thought you were arguing that a judge was never bound by the deals made by a prosecutor, and could always ignore them once he had the guilty plea in hand. If, instead, the only deal with the prosecutors in this case was that Polanski would get whatever the judge felt like giving him, that's a very different matter. In that case, Polanski, for all practical purposes, never had a deal to begin with.

Supposing, though, for the sale of argument that the judge had, in fact, and before witnesses, given Polanski or his counsel assurances or promises? That doesn't make it legal for Polanski to flee, but isn't that, on its face necessitate an appeals court calling it a mistrial and setting aside the plea?


A judge is never bound by a plea agreement. However, judges often follow along with what the prosecutors recommend because it is in the best interest of justice.

Having said that, a judge cannot make enforceable promises, so I would be the Defendant, having pled as above, would be out of luck on that. There can be no mistrial. There isn't a trial in a plead out case.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:02 PM on July 12, 2010


Polanski doesn't need to be prosecuted for rape, as he's already been convicted of it. He needs to be sentenced.
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:04 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's probably more of a polite "fuck you" to the American legal system that it is anything to do with Polanski. If you compare the American and European penal systems, sending a perp to the States is tantamount to extraordinary rendition.
posted by clarknova at 2:14 PM on July 12, 2010


Obama is President of the United States. He can put pressure on foreign governments.

And those governments are constrained by their own laws.

Sometimes the good guys lose. Not accepting that fact and instead pressuring others to change the rules in the middle of the game makes for (morally) unclean hands.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:19 PM on July 12, 2010


It's probably more of a polite "fuck you" to the American legal system that it is anything to do with Polanski. If you compare the American and European penal systems, sending a perp to the States is tantamount to extraordinary rendition.

The European Justice systems generally provide for no jury trials (some exceptions) and presume the defendant's guilt. I find them procedurally far inferior to defendants than those in the US, which provide the defendants with far more substantive and procedural rights, thankfully.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:20 PM on July 12, 2010


Obama is President of the United States. He can put pressure on foreign governments.

And those governments are constrained by their own laws.

Sometimes the good guys lose. Not accepting that fact and instead pressuring others to change the rules in the middle of the game makes for (morally) unclean hands.


Uh, this was a discretionary decision by prosecutors in Switzerland. Not a situation where the government was "constrained by its own laws." It was as political as the day was long and has zero basis in fact. Obama should be pressing for a change of decision.

The only "unclean hands" here (a complex doctrine which is frankly inapplicable) are the hands of the Swiss prosecutors.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:23 PM on July 12, 2010


kittens for breakfast Thank you, Rorschach.

KPAstrology was not a native English speaker. So, ha-ha, great stuff, thanks.
posted by mlis at 2:29 PM on July 12, 2010


The European Justice systems generally provide for no jury trials (some exceptions) and presume the defendant's guilt. I find them procedurally far inferior to defendants than those in the US, which provide the defendants with far more substantive and procedural rights, thankfully.

True enough. But the procedure bit was over thirty three years ago. The case is now wholly about sentencing and incarceration. Or at least it was. And what we do to the guilty over here is what concerns most Europeans.
posted by clarknova at 2:36 PM on July 12, 2010


The European Justice systems generally provide for no jury trials [bullshit] and presume the defendant's guilt [bullshit].

If I were poor and accused of a serious crime, boy howdy would I prefer the European court system to the American.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:38 PM on July 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Uh, this was a discretionary decision by prosecutors in Switzerland. Not a situation where the government was "constrained by its own laws." It was as political as the day was long and has zero basis in fact. Obama should be pressing for a change of decision.

I think it's a mistake to get tied up in such a case on such a level. Polanski does not represent a threat, or at least if he does I'm unaware of it. We have two wars going, one the longest in US history, an oil leak in the gulf that won't stop, an economy which is barely improving, among other issues. This is so much tabloid trash and not worth the effort. Sure, maybe he's a criminal, maybe he's despicable and deserves to rot in prison. Obama has better things to do than to intervene to change the mind of the Swiss government involving a celebrity crime case that's decades old. Is this really worth putting your neck on the line, as the President?
posted by krinklyfig at 2:40 PM on July 12, 2010


The European Justice systems generally provide for no jury trials (some exceptions) and presume the defendant's guilt. I find them procedurally far inferior to defendants than those in the US, which provide the defendants with far more substantive and procedural rights, thankfully.

So many rights, and yet you end up incarcerating so many fucking people.
posted by Baldons at 2:45 PM on July 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ironmouth
Obama should be pressing for a change of decision.

If Obama did this it would be seen as purely a political act. I think this is one place the President should not get involved. I mean, Polanski's case is serious but why should Obama be expected to go to extra lengths on this one case when you know thousands of other cases - that are just as serious - are out there? This is in no way the first case where someone has fled - nor is it the first case where something similar has happened [or in some other cases where equally criminal charges were dropped].

My point is the celebrity factor clouds this case a whole lot more than people are willing to admit. And if someone like the President of the US gets involved it would just take it up one incredible level. I mean, I know people want to see Polanski do time [or hang] but there comes a point where we can do without the theatrics of governments or heads of state stepping in. [Or more than they have anyway.]
posted by Rashomon at 2:46 PM on July 12, 2010


KPAstrology was not a native English speaker. So, ha-ha, great stuff, thanks.

Sorry if I offended KPAstrology. Rather than derail a thread, though, it might be better for you to drop someone a memail rather than make an issue of it in a mostly unrelated discussion.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:51 PM on July 12, 2010


A judge is never bound by a plea agreement. However, judges often follow along with what the prosecutors recommend because it is in the best interest of justice.

So, then I think it's largely back to what I said earlier that (outside of jurisdictions which provide for binding agreements) the defendant can have no assurance that the sentence he bargained with the prosecution for will be the sentence he actually receives when he pleads guilty. He can bargain only for the prosecutor's suggestion to the judge which may count for nothing.

I don't doubt your assertion that this is technically correct, but if judges typically did that, I think we'd see a lot fewer guilty pleas.
posted by tyllwin at 2:56 PM on July 12, 2010


Obama is President of the United States. He can put pressure on foreign governments. I believe it a good thing to do so to bring back an admitted criminal who used drugs to have sex with a 12 year old girl and then fled rather than face sentencing.

No offense, but the idea of Obama making an issue of this is ridiculous, and I'd be immensely disappointed if he even bothered to acknowledge it was going on. Regardless of how passionately people may feel about it, this is a thirty-plus-year-old rape case; no one died, no one is likely in any danger from the attacker now, and in the grand scheme of things, tragic or not, it is just not a case that's so remarkable that the president of the United States needs -- in my opinion -- to waste his time on it. We are at war on two fronts, we have a huge fucking gusher of oil that's busy destroying Louisiana, we have the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression...and the president is supposed to worry about Roman Polanski? Please. That would be nothing but grandstanding, plain and simple. I'd expect it of Bush, but I think Obama is above that sort of thing (I hope he is).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:01 PM on July 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


A judge is never bound by a plea agreement. However, judges often follow along with what the prosecutors recommend because it is in the best interest of justice.

So, then I think it's largely back to what I said earlier that (outside of jurisdictions which provide for binding agreements) the defendant can have no assurance that the sentence he bargained with the prosecution for will be the sentence he actually receives when he pleads guilty. He can bargain only for the prosecutor's suggestion to the judge which may count for nothing.

I don't doubt your assertion that this is technically correct, but if judges typically did that, I think we'd see a lot fewer guilty pleas.


I cannot say how often it happens. But it does, probably more often than you would think. But it can form no basis for any legal right to flee the jurisdiction, ever. He is 100% in the wrong. He has no enforcable right here.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:03 PM on July 12, 2010


The only "unclean hands" here (a complex doctrine which is frankly inapplicable) are the hands of the Swiss prosecutors.

Actually, it's perfectly applicable, because it's not a reference to the legal doctrine at all.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:05 PM on July 12, 2010


Rather than derail a thread, though, it might be better for you to drop someone a memail

There was no derail and a comment in this thread was the appropriate place. No need to reply, thanks in advance, yours etc.
posted by mlis at 3:06 PM on July 12, 2010


Ironmouth
Obama should be pressing for a change of decision.

If Obama did this it would be seen as purely a political act. I think this is one place the President should not get involved. I mean, Polanski's case is serious but why should Obama be expected to go to extra lengths on this one case when you know thousands of other cases - that are just as serious - are out there? This is in no way the first case where someone has fled - nor is it the first case where something similar has happened [or in some other cases where equally criminal charges were dropped].

My point is the celebrity factor clouds this case a whole lot more than people are willing to admit. And if someone like the President of the US gets involved it would just take it up one incredible level. I mean, I know people want to see Polanski do time [or hang] but there comes a point where we can do without the theatrics of governments or heads of state stepping in. [Or more than they have anyway.]


I would be amazed if the Attorney General himself did not make the final call for a request for extradition.

And there are huge non-political issues here--policy issues. Enforcement of the laws of fleeing jurisdictions. Persons need to be punished for that. its not the rape, its the fleeing.

it is just not a case that's so remarkable that the president of the United States needs -- in my opinion -- to waste his time on it. We are at war on two fronts, we have a huge fucking gusher of oil that's busy destroying Louisiana, we have the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression...and the president is supposed to worry about Roman Polanski? Please.


A high-profile fugitive flees justice and gets away with it in front of the press and you do not think it is an important enough policy issue for the President of the United States? Don't you think the country has a powerful policy interest in informing all that would flee justice that they will be pursued wherever they go? I certainly do. Perhaps I am clouded by my profession, but this is a huge case in my opinion.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:07 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, Polanski committed a serious crime he should have served his sentence for. But dammit, because he was famous he got away?

If he had been some random Joe, he would have served a few months, or possibly escaped. After that, about 16 people would have remembered what he was convicted of and 12 of them would have been dead within a decade.

Polanski has lived with being known as the famous child rapist for three decades now, and that's how it should be. (Hamsun is still remembered as a Nazi quisling here in Norway; the fact that he wrote amazing novels is the only reason he is remembered as a Nazi quisling: his fame is his sentence. Thousands of other quislings have been totally forgotten.)

But to claim that Polanski somehow escaped the punishment that a regular Joe would have suffered? Balls.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:08 PM on July 12, 2010


The only "unclean hands" here (a complex doctrine which is frankly inapplicable) are the hands of the Swiss prosecutors.

Actually, it's perfectly applicable, because it's not a reference to the legal doctrine at all.


Well, if we are talking morality only, Polanski dosed a 12 year old girl with quaaludes, gave her champaign and then had sex with her in violation of California law. So I think there's very little moral argument here in favor of a man who admitted in open court at his allocution that he committed the act. There is no moral case for him not being sentenced.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:09 PM on July 12, 2010


But to claim that Polanski somehow escaped the punishment that a regular Joe would have suffered? Balls.

Uh, a regular Joe would have been labelled a sex offender and put away for many years. These are facts. Your conflation of living in a Swiss chalet as a famous in Gstaad and a prison sentence is simply not supported by the facts.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:11 PM on July 12, 2010


Uh, a regular Joe would have been labelled a sex offender and put away for many years. These are facts. Your conflation of living in a Swiss chalet as a famous in Gstaad and a prison sentence is simply not supported by the facts.

This is what typically happened in the 70s?
posted by Dumsnill at 3:14 PM on July 12, 2010


There is no moral case for him not being sentenced.

There may be no moral case, but as a practical one, it suits me just fine to have him permanently exiled from my country. I think I actually prefer that to a hypothetical past where he did a year in jail, paid his debt to society and was then back on our streets.
posted by tyllwin at 3:16 PM on July 12, 2010


A high-profile fugitive flees justice and gets away with it in front of the press and you do not think it is an important enough policy issue for the President of the United States? Don't you think the country has a powerful policy interest in informing all that would flee justice that they will be pursued wherever they go? I certainly do. Perhaps I am clouded by my profession, but this is a huge case in my opinion.

I think it may be big in terms of symbolism, but as an actual case...no. I think it's really minor when stacked up against the things that we expect the president to handle. I think it would be Obama making Roman Polanski over into a Terry Schiavo of his very own.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:16 PM on July 12, 2010


And if we're going to talk about bad actors, how about the breaches of ethics committed by the (now deceased) judge in the original case in the '70s? The fact that he wasn't removed from the bench is unfortunate. Putting your own reputation before the proper administration of justice is a sign that you should never be allowed anywhere near a courtroom. Polanski probably shouldn't have been granted bail; the fact that he subsequently fled when he had both somewhere to flee to and a shitload of money isn't all that surprising in retrospect.

Let's face it. The system screwed up in the late '70s and earlier this year, and Polanski got away because of it. The fact that he will likely die of old age without ever facing any real punishment may be something we find unconscionable, but that's not a valid reason to upend the system.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:16 PM on July 12, 2010


There is no moral case for him not being sentenced.

Agreed, but there is no practical way he is ever going to serve such a sentence, and if he decides he's going to France permanently, there's nothing we can legally do about it.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:19 PM on July 12, 2010


Ironmouth
A high-profile fugitive flees justice and gets away with it in front of the press and you do not think it is an important enough policy issue for the President of the United States?

Yeah but this happened in 1977. So why didn't Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton or Bush II do anything about it.? I mean running after Polanski now would be a charade. And who should grab him? The CIA? The Marines?

Also, to the good point made by Dumsnill: If a non-celebrity had fled the country in just the way Polanski had we - indeed - would not be having this discussion. I don't doubt that many have fled but because they were not big celebrities and they are today pretty much forgotten. [Also would Polanski really serve for years if convicted?]

Polanski is not an international terrorist. In short there is just no way the Attorney General would get involved. I'd be amazed.
posted by Rashomon at 3:45 PM on July 12, 2010


The LA District Attorney just lambasted the Swiss and also indicated that the claim that requested documentation was not provided is false:

He said the department complied with every request made by Swiss and U.S. authorities as part of the extradition process.

posted by bearwife at 3:53 PM on July 12, 2010


A high-profile fugitive flees justice and gets away with it in front of the press and you do not think it is an important enough policy issue for the President of the United States?

It was not under Obama's watch that this happened. I think it would suck the air out of the room, and we have many, many more pressing issues to worry about. I would be disappointed if he did get involved as well. I did not vote for him to see him get tangled up in celebrity crime cases.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:15 PM on July 12, 2010


I think it may be big in terms of symbolism, but as an actual case...no. I think it's really minor when stacked up against the things that we expect the president to handle. I think it would be Obama making Roman Polanski over into a Terry Schiavo of his very own.

Yes, exactly what I was thinking of.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:17 PM on July 12, 2010


He [the DA] said the department complied with every request made by Swiss and U.S. authorities as part of the extradition process.

If the best the LA prosecutor can get into an AP article is a synopsis rather than a quote on this rather important detail, I am not at all surprised he bungled the extradition.
posted by Ardiril at 5:11 PM on July 12, 2010


Wait, wait, do you get less punishment in the afterlife if you get punished in life? What's the ratio of years in prison on earth to lesser punishment after death?

Sin multiplies itself. Not only will he be responsible for the original event but for every single negative thing that flowed from the act, multiplied by the years it goes unrepented of.He could have faced his evil here on earth, submitted to the justice of man and made his peace with God. But he's choosing not to. If he thinks he has gotten away with anything, he's dead wrong. There is absolutely nothing that man's justice can do to him that could be one tenth of one millionth percent as fearful as facing a God of perfect Justice....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:22 PM on July 12, 2010


But yes I think it stinks to high heaven that he isn't being extradited now. That is a slap in the face to every single victim of this kind of abuse.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:23 PM on July 12, 2010


Well, Ardiril, I'm not sure why it is a measure of the LA DA's effectiveness that AP provided a synopsis instead of a direct quote, but here's the direct quote:

Our office complied fully with all of the factual and legal requirements of the extradition treaty and requests by the U.S. and Swiss Departments of Justice and State.
posted by bearwife at 5:25 PM on July 12, 2010


And in related news, Whoopi Goldberg was seen doing the happy dance after hearing about Switzerland's action.

Why not just call it rape and leave it at that?

Well, it wasn't rape rape.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:27 PM on July 12, 2010


The European Justice systems generally provide for no jury trials and presume the defendant's guilt.

Used to be, not so much anymore.

Not germane to this trial, but one does wonder if this was an isolated instance....

"it was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the US extraditionary request,"

Pretty mealy mouthed. Exactly what fault are we talking about here?
posted by IndigoJones at 5:35 PM on July 12, 2010


That's not a lambasting; that is spin that deserves no more than a summary from the news media. He should have addressed the testimony in question directly, explaining in detail what was requested and whether that was indeed delivered. Perhaps the time has come for that confidential testimony be made public.
posted by Ardiril at 5:38 PM on July 12, 2010


There is absolutely nothing that man's justice can do to him that could be one tenth of one millionth percent as fearful as facing a God of perfect Justice....

It's nice that you and God hate the same things.
posted by Trochanter at 5:56 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


what What WHAT?!!? I'm so fucking blind with rage to even hear that that I don't know how to feel. Off to read the article and the thread now.
posted by agregoli at 5:58 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I see labberdasher has already linked to the Swiss press release that describes the fault in the extradition that the Swiss wanted addressed. The US Department of Justice decided that that testimony should be withheld. So, why didn't the LA prosecutor lay the blame where it belonged?
posted by Ardiril at 6:18 PM on July 12, 2010


See, it's comments like this (and there are MANY, already - I'm not singling anyone out):

If the victim is of a mind to forgive and (hopefully) forget, then I believe that justice should take its cue from that.

that I find DEEPLY disturbing. What about the next victim? The one who can't forgive and forget? The one who's life is absolutely shattered, forever? Oh, well, the last girl didn't mind that rape in the end, why are you so upset?

Is it because it's about sex, so it's no big deal? I want any man who makes a comment akin to a shrug and a sigh to really, deeply think about what it would mean for the facts of this crime to happen to them. At that young age, to be drugged and raped by a powerful, rich man much older than you...and then have justice completely denied. And it's not just her - it's her family, her friends. They all have had to deal with this.

For crying out loud, people.
posted by agregoli at 6:26 PM on July 12, 2010


Sorry, I just didn't read far enough, and I'm done with commenting now. Apologies. This says it all:

Suggesting that those of us who don't want to see a rapist get away with rape are somehow at fault for this sick circus, rather than, you know, THE RAPIST, is probably the worst aspect of the whole thing.

Do you have women friends, or daughters, or relatives? Then you should be ashamed to support this man, because a world where money/artistic skill gives you a free license to rape is a world that tells them, your female loved ones, that they are nothing, that they are meat, that they are there to be used and thrown away. Stand on that platform if you want to, but don't ask me to applaud you.
posted by emjaybee


A thousand times favorited.
posted by agregoli at 6:29 PM on July 12, 2010


There is no legal basis for flight in the U.S. legal system under the situation laid out here.

Oh, I'd prefer for him to do some time.

But your original comment was that he would have no right to flee "regardless of the underlying offense."

In a broader setting, of course the underlying offense matters. I would hope that another state would have exhausted absolutely every possibility for refusing to comply with extradition for, say, people fleeing prosecution for miscegenation when there was such a crime.

I would likewise hope that any and every nation would refuse to extradite people back to their homelands to face prosecution for peaceful political dissent, or homosexuality, or practicing a minority religion. Your stance seemed to imply that it was absolutely morally incumbent on all nations to hand over anyone who had fled prosecution for any offense whatsoever, because justice must be served.

The fact that he had raped a young girl, and hadn't pled guilty to thoughtcrime or to being homosexual, matters in any reasonable discussion of this. It's what separates people fleeing prosecution who by every reasonable standard absolutely deserve protection and support from people like him.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:32 PM on July 12, 2010


The US Department of Justice decided that that testimony should be withheld. So, why didn't the LA prosecutor lay the blame where it belonged?

DOJ denies having withheld anything. But the Swiss press release stated that the DOJ felt that prior case law prevented them from handing over some transcript. But the Swiss are in error. All they need is the waiver in the allocution. He's waived any right to action on that point. That's what a plea bargain does. Pure politics.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:33 PM on July 12, 2010


The European Justice systems generally provide for no jury trials and presume the defendant's guilt.

Used to be, not so much anymore.


Sort of a derail, yes, but Article 6 does not provide for a jury, only an "impartial tribunal."
posted by Ironmouth at 8:35 PM on July 12, 2010


Don't you know better than to argue with somebody named "Ironmouth"?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:48 PM on July 12, 2010


Ironmouth, you keep saying the girl was 12. She was 13. I know that doesn't make a heck of a lot of difference but it's one of the few facts we can be sure of in this case--there's no need to keep stating it wrong.
posted by dobbs at 10:15 PM on July 12, 2010


A high-profile fugitive flees justice and gets away with it in front of the press and you do not think it is an important enough policy issue for the President of the United States?

What I find laughable is that people think the US President's opinion has any sway in a matter such as this in another country. It just seems bizarre to me. You really think they're going to say, "Go ahead, set him free. Wait, wait... Scratch my own opinion, which I'd been considering for 6 months, the leader of another country disagrees and his opinion trumps my own." That's some deluded topsy-turvy thinkin' right there.
posted by dobbs at 10:23 PM on July 12, 2010


What I find laughable is that people think the US President's opinion has any sway in a matter such as this in another country. It just seems bizarre to me.

You've never heard of soft power? The President doesn't need to send the 5th Fleet, there are other channels and ways to influence.

That said, I agree that it would not be productive for the President to become involved.
posted by Snyder at 10:40 PM on July 12, 2010


The Obama Presidency will surely crumble if Roman Polanski is free to wander the cafes of Paris. If you don't see this, you must be French or something.
posted by philip-random at 11:10 PM on July 12, 2010


Pure politics.

I agree. All this hooha and xenophobia against the swiss legal system over an additional 48 days of psychiatric evaluation--the remainder of the judge's original agreement, and Polanski spent 70 days in a swiss jail. All told, 112 days for a 90 day sentence. He served his time. Just not in an american jail, so hey, USA, fuck you and your overbearing sense of privilege. No wonder California is damn near bankrupt.

DOJ denies having withheld anything. -- Really? The May 10, 2010 article that reports CA Judge Espinoza refusing to unseal the transcript, and my oh my, how convenient that Charlotte Lewis was in LA to break her story on the same date the swiss say, "The request of the FOJ to supply the records was rejected by the US Justice Department on 13th May 2010 due to a court ruling, according to which the records had to be kept secret." The DOJ story is buried so deep under Lewis that Google News can't begin to dig it out. Obama can't say anything without being critical of his own DOJ.

Further, Cooley is running for California attorney general. Can you say, "Michael Byron Nifong"?

Pure politics, indeed.
posted by Ardiril at 11:41 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


For crying out loud, people.

No justice system has unlimited resources to throw at every problem. If Polanski never sees the US again it will not have a significant effect on the justice system, if any. This is misplaced outrage. There is nothing to be gained by making this an international incident, any more than it is. RIGHT NOW there are millions of people who aren't being rehabilitated by the prison in which they're serving time, and the vast majority will be released into society again. THAT is a far bigger problem than Roman Fucking Polanski and his salacious deviance. If Obama spent any time on this I'd rightly believe he had his priorities out of whack and was grandstanding.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:08 AM on July 13, 2010


Suggesting that those of us who don't want to see a rapist get away with rape are somehow at fault for this sick circus, rather than, you know, THE RAPIST, is probably the worst aspect of the whole thing.

The very idea that someone having an opposing opinion somehow didn't care about the women in their life is really too much. Do you really think I haven't been affected deeply by rape, that the women in my family don't mean anything to me? Come on. Let's not get into that sort of thing. Keep it above the table, OK? Roman Polanski didn't rape anyone in your family, and you're trying to turn his case into a symbol of all rape cases, into a personal vendetta, that if we don't approve of every measure being taken to nail this celebrity fugitive that somehow we're not on the side of justice and Mom (and I presume apple pie, as well) - that we want the women in our families to be raped, isn't that right? That's not how any egalitarian system of justice works, and that's a ridiculous standard to expect anyone to live up to.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:16 AM on July 13, 2010


If the victim is of a mind to forgive and (hopefully) forget, then I believe that justice should take its cue from that.

And if the victim wants the rapist to be gang-raped with cattle prods, castrated, flayed alive, and then thrown to hammerhead sharks off the coast of Florida, should the justice system take it's cue from that?

Or do we only pay attention to the wishes of the victim when it lets rapists who happen to make films we like off the hook?
posted by rodgerd at 1:33 AM on July 13, 2010


Focusing on any one defendant (or victim, for that matter) is a dangerous proposition. This is how inequities in the system are perpetuated. You know that thing about 'justice being blind'? It's a metaphor. It means that the system ought to treat people the same whether they are Roman Polanski or some schmoe. It's the rule of law- you set rules ahead of time to establish what happens in a situation so you don't make it up as you go along when someone you particularly like (or hate) does something.

What outrages me about this case is that the rule of law broke down. Obviously the defendant lost confidence in our rule of law when he fled (debatable). But the Swiss have an extradition treaty with the US, and it sure looks like they opted to go with the 'make it up as you go along' model instead of the 'follow impartial rules that were pre-set' model of justice.

That it means a rapist officially gets away with it now is almost beside the point.
posted by norm at 6:10 AM on July 13, 2010


What outrages me about this case is that the rule of law broke down. Obviously the defendant lost confidence in our rule of law when he fled (debatable). But the Swiss have an extradition treaty with the US, and it sure looks like they opted to go with the 'make it up as you go along' model instead of the 'follow impartial rules that were pre-set' model of justice.

Since you don't think the rule of law was followed, let's look at the treaty in question.

US Extradition Treaty with Switzerland:
Article 2 provides that an offense is extraditable if it is punish-
able by both parties by deprivation of liberty for more than one
year. Extradition shall be granted only if the duration of the pen-
alty or detention order, or their aggregate, still to be served,
amounts to at least six months.


Now let's quote from the decision of the Swiss FOJ.

The request of the FOJ to supply the records was rejected by the US Justice Department on 13th May 2010 due to a court ruling, according to which the records had to be kept secret. In these circumstances it is not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty that Roman Polanski has already served the sentence he was condemned to at the time and that the extradition request is undermined by a serious fault.

In the opinion of the FOJ the DOJ did not prove with the necessary certainty that Polanski has at least 6 months still to serve. Naturally the burden of proof is in the hands of the government doing the accusing. Now I'm no legal scholar so I'm not really sure how well founded that opinion is but it is not just made up.
posted by Authorized User at 7:19 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


[comments removed - get the hell out of here with your rape jokes.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:20 AM on July 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm not an expert in extradition law but that decision is about as compelling to me legally as Bush v. Gore. Polanski didn't get extradited for one reason: he's a famous director.
posted by norm at 8:00 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Surely the attempt at extradition on a thirty year old case only happened for the same reason.
posted by Trochanter at 8:38 AM on July 13, 2010


Agreed. He would have been extradited twenty nine years ago but for his famousness and the fact he was shielded by cooperative foreign governments.
posted by norm at 8:41 AM on July 13, 2010


[Metatalk or email if you need to talk about moderation. "It wasn't a rape joke, I was just deliberately baiting people" is not okay either.]
posted by cortex at 9:09 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Trochanter: Surely the attempt at extradition on a thirty year old case only happened for the same reason.

The attempt at extradition happened because Polanski's lawyers reopened a dead case with demands that it be dismissed in absentia. It was Polanski's insistence on forcing a resolution to his legal case while remaining a fugitive that prompted renewed arrest warrants and extradition papers.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:20 AM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fair enough.
posted by Trochanter at 9:24 AM on July 13, 2010


If Polanski never sees the US again it will not have a significant effect on the justice system, if any. This is misplaced outrage. There is nothing to be gained by making this an international incident, any more than it is. RIGHT NOW there are millions of people who aren't being rehabilitated by the prison in which they're serving time, and the vast majority will be released into society again.

If Polanski were extradited to face the music, it would demonstrate that being powerful and influential figure does not always mean that such people can commit whatever crimes they wish without penalty. That would be a gain.

Rape has been traditionally been handled very, very poorly by law enforcement, lawyers, and the justice system.. (For example, the Philadelphia Police Department famously finally acknowledged in 1999 that decades of rape cases were routinely downgraded to non-criminal status.) The still-significant numbers of unreported rapes are at least partly because victim intimidation and case mismanagement continues to be an issue.

It would be nice to not have a giant black mark of an example that says yeah, actually, it is futile to accuse a high-profile figure of rape. If Polanski can get away with admittedly drugging and anally raping a 13 year old girl, then what does that say to someone who is a victim of a less "shocking" example of sexual assault? I don't think that women don't go to the police because they literally think that their [respected/important/community leader/wevs] rapist will flee to Europe just like Roman Polanski, but the principle is the same -- it doesn't matter, the powerful will be protected.
posted by desuetude at 9:37 AM on July 13, 2010 [4 favorites]



Sort of a derail, yes, but Article 6 does not provide for a jury, only an "impartial tribunal."

It was the presumption of innocence part that I was interested in.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:12 AM on July 13, 2010


In the opinion of the FOJ the DOJ did not prove with the necessary certainty that Polanski has at least 6 months still to serve.

Catch 22? Apparanlty the plea bargain stipulated jailed evaluation for ninety days, of which he served 42, at which time the shrinks recommended total release and forget the remainder of the ninety days. The judge had it in his authority to order further jail time for statutory rape - a risk Polanski had taken when he entered the plea. So he scarpers

So at the time he jumped bail, he had not been sentenced at all.

So how could one possibly know how much time was still to be served?

Or am I missing something? Others clearly are following this more closely than I am.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:28 AM on July 13, 2010


It'd be nice to imagine that, right now, a CIA black-bag team is on its way to Europe for a spot of extrajudicial extradition, and that, within a few days, a heavily sedated Roman Polanski will be aboard an unmarked light aircraft headed for US airspace. Unfortunately, it's also exceedingly unlikely.
posted by acb at 11:01 AM on July 13, 2010


European cheers, and jeers: French and Polish officials praised the decision by Swiss authorities to free Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski. But some ordinary citizens and French elite said a different judicial standard is used for the rich and famous.
posted by homunculus at 12:09 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


And here is yet another jaw-dropping twist: now Polanski is demanding through his lawyers that there be an investigation into the alleged judicial misconduct 30 years ago.

See, it is really Roman who was the victim here.

Is it just me who feels a strong disinclination to pay to see any future Polanski films?
posted by bearwife at 4:19 PM on July 13, 2010


No justice system has unlimited resources to throw at every problem. If Polanski never sees the US again it will not have a significant effect on the justice system, if any. This is misplaced outrage...RIGHT NOW there are millions of people who aren't being rehabilitated by the prison in which they're serving time, and the vast majority will be released into society again. THAT is a far bigger problem than Roman Fucking Polanski and his salacious deviance.

Yeah, I'm pretty freaking aware of the limitations of the justice system, since I work in a branch of it. I don't find my outrage misplaced at all, thank you. I can be mad about this AND about the rest of the fucked-up system! Amazing!
posted by agregoli at 5:58 PM on July 13, 2010


If Polanski never sees the US again it will not have a significant effect on the justice system, if any. This is misplaced outrage. There is nothing to be gained by making this an international incident, any more than it is. RIGHT NOW there are millions of people who aren't being rehabilitated by the prison in which they're serving time, and the vast majority will be released into society again.

I beg to differ. Let's be honest, the justice system can't lock up every criminal, ticket every speeder, and catch every offender. Persons are deterred into following the law. The possiblity of arrest and sentence causes some people not to commit crimes.

When a high-profile defendant is able to flee and it is highly publicized, it will reduce that deterrent, as persons think that they will be able to flee as well.

Perhaps most won't have a well-paid set of Swiss lawyers, but the state will have to track them down using our money to bring them to justice.

And for those who think this is a political attempt at gaining votes, you are exactly right. But it is Polanksi's fault. He recieved terrible legal advice to go ahead and try and get the case dismissed. That puts politicians in a position of having to go after him for fear of losing an election. This is called pure stupidity. If he didn't do that, the pressure to go after him would have never been generated.

Having said that, what, exactly, is wrong with the government attempting to bring back a man who admitted to drugging a 12-year old girl and having sex with her? Polanski has no legal case and he admitted in open court to doing wrong. This is how I want my tax dollars spent.

They should have thrown the book at him back in the day.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:16 AM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


It'd be nice to imagine that, right now, a CIA black-bag team is on its way to Europe for a spot of extrajudicial extradition, and that, within a few days, a heavily sedated Roman Polanski will be aboard an unmarked light aircraft headed for US airspace. Unfortunately, it's also exceedingly unlikely.

Er, you mean, fortunately. There's a reason kidnappping is illegal.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 11:03 PM on July 14, 2010


If it was good enough for Eichmann why not this guy? American justice must be done at any cost cost!
posted by Meatbomb at 11:46 PM on July 14, 2010


Authorities dispute Polanski case miscommunication
posted by homunculus at 12:00 PM on July 16, 2010


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