Roman Polanski's lawyers are again urging a judge to sentence the director “in absentia:” They argue that authorities in Switzerland, where he's being held, have been “misled” about a previous court's intentions in Polanski's original sentencing deal in 1978.
The New York Times points out that Swiss authorities will only extradite someone to the United States if they're facing the possibility of six or more months behind bars. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office left out the fact that Polanski was only facing an additional 48 days behind bars when he fled to Europe, his lawyers argue.
“To allow Mr. Polanski to be sentenced in absentia could finally end this case without Mr. Polanski needing to return to the jurisdiction,'' his attorneys wrote.
Last week the D.A.'s office opposed the move to have Polanski be sentenced for having sex with a minor from afar. The director requested such sentencing after an appeals court suggested this saga could end with Polanski being sentenced in absentia, possibly for time served.
Polanski served 42 days under psychiatric evaluation and thought that he had done his time under a plea deal when a judge indicated he might also be imprisoned for 48 additional days. Polanski fled for France in 1978 but was picked up in Switzerland in September. He's been under house arrest there at his Swiss chalet as extradition proceedings go forward.
While his lawyers argue that the D.A.'s filings in the case have to do with the “nakedly political” motives of District Attorney Steve Cooley, who has said he'll likely run for state Attorney General, it's not clear that a contemporary judge would agree that 42 days of psychiatric evaluation or even an extra 48 days behind bars would be an apt sentence for sex with a minor. The Los Angeles Times reported that such a case today, involving a 13-year-old victim, might bring a one-year jail or prison sentence.