Showdown Set In Polanski Case; He Won't Be There - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Showdown Set In Polanski Case; He Won't Be There

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LOS ANGELES - After months of legal maneuvers, it's time for the much anticipated courtroom showdown on director Roman Polanski's effort to have a 31-year-old sex prosecution against him dismissed.

Polanski's campaign to clear himself of fugitive status was sparked by an HBO documentary film, "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," which disclosed new information about actions by the now deceased judge who presided over his case, a scenario that his lawyers say amounted to misconduct.

But the central issue in Tuesday's hearing will not be the allegations of misconduct but rather the question of whether Polanski's case can be heard without his presence.

The director has said through his lawyer that he doesn't plan to be at the hearing; in fact, he says he has no plans to ever set foot in the United States again.

If he chose to appear for the hearing in his case, he would likely be arrested on a fugitive warrant.

The district attorney's office has argued in documents that as a fugitive, Polanski is not entitled to the processes of the court unless he appears in person to request dismissal.

His lawyer, Chad Hummel, has presented several legal arguments contending that Polanski should be allowed to have his case decided in absentia.

Since filing the request in early December, Hummel has filed many motions, among them a request to have the entire Los Angeles Superior Court disqualified from hearing the case because of bias against Polanski. Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza, who will hear the matter, and an appellate court rejected that motion.

Polanski, who pleaded guilty to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, fled into exile in France in 1977.

He had spent 42 days in prison in what his lawyers believed was his full sentence under a plea bargain. But a decision by the now deceased judge to add more prison time and require his voluntary deportation prompted him to leave the country.

The documentary on the case suggests behind-the-scenes manipulations which the defense claims amounted to judicial misconduct.

Polanski, now 75, lives in France, where his film career has continued to flourish. He received a directing Oscar in absentia for the 2002 movie "The Pianist." While still working in the United States, he directed such classic films as "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby."

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