Polanski Case: Prosecutor's Dishonesty Challenged
It's come to the point in Los Angeles where you can't even trust people to tell lies anymore. That's one of the bizarre situations spawned by the recent Swiss arrest of film director Roman Polanski. Last year an HBO-aired documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, alleged that Polanski bolted the United States when it became clear a judge was going to renege on a plea deal worked out between Polanski's lawyer and the District Attorney's office related to charges that Polanski had raped a 13-year-old girl. The doc more than alleged this scenario -- it had a retired deputy district attorney, David Wells, on camera telling the world he had urged Superior Court Judge Laurence Rittenband to toss the plea deal and throw more jail time Polanski's way. Even though Wells was not part of the prosecution team pressing the case against Polanski, such an ex parte conversation, without defense counsel present, is a massive breach of ethics.
This admission led Polanski's supporters to excuse his 1978 flight from America and to now denounce efforts to return him to Los Angeles. Yesterday, Wells made a new, though no less astounding claim to former L.A. deputy district attorney Marcia Clark. Wells told the Daily Beast writer that he had lied to filmmaker Marina Zenovich because he "thought it made a better story if I said I'd told the judge what to do." As the sympathetic Clark took all this down, Wells added, "Look, after 30 years, I never thought they'd get the guy back here. I figured no one cared anymore, and no one here would
ever see the film anyway. What can I say? . . . It seemed like a good idea at the time."
By the time Wells had gotten around to unburdening his soul to Jack Leonard at the L.A. Times, the old prosecutor was sounding a little more self-ennobling: "I'm known to the world as a liar. It's mortifying. But it's my duty [now] to tell the truth."
Today, Zenovich issued a statement questioning Wells' dishonesty.
Professing to be "perplexed" and "astonished" by both Wells' recantation and his timing, Zenovich put forward her spin on the matter:
"Mr. Wells was always friendly and open with me. At
no point in the four years since our interview has he ever raised any
issues about its content. In fact, in a July 2008 story in the New
York Times, Mr. Wells corroborated the account of events that he gave
in my film."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.