Lawyers for Roman Polanski requested Wednesday's much-anticipated court hearing in Los Angeles, the District Attorney's office indicated, and they might ask that their client be sentenced in absentia.

The move comes in the wake of a state appeals court ruling in December that opened the door for Polanski, who fled to France in 1978 before sentencing for his sex-with-a-minor conviction, to get off the hook, particularly if he is sentenced in absentia for time already served. He spent 42 days under psychiatric evaluation for the crime, but a judge at the time indicated there could be more time for the famed director, triggering his fugitive run.

After he went to Switzerland in September to collect an award and the D.A.'s office caught wind of it, Polanski was nabbed and remains under house arrest at his Swiss chalet while he fights extradition to Los Angeles.

In the meantime his lawyers made the unexpected request for a hearing this week, and speculation is that they'll feel out the judge to see if Polanski can ultimately be free to return to L.A. without fear of being jailed.

“They may make a request for him to be sentenced in absentia,” Loyola Law professor Laurie Levenson told Reuters. “They may want to feel out the court to see what would happen if he came back … This is a great game of chess with neither side knowing what the other side's next move is.”

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