LOS ANGELES – An attorney for fugitive movie director Roman Polanski is seeking to have the Los Angeles County Superior Court removed from his notorious sex case, accusing the court on Monday of bias and prejudice against Polanski.
Polanski has been a fugitive in France for 30 years after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles. His attorneys filed a request last month to dismiss the charge against him because of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct that was detailed in a television documentary.
In a motion filed Monday, attorney Chad Hummel sought removal of Polanski's case to the California Judicial Council for resolution. Hummel wants the council to appoint a judge from another county to hear the case.
He claims that statements by a court spokesman since the original motion was filed showed that the courts have prejudged at least one issue — whether Polanski must appear in court on Jan. 21 for his request to be considered. Such an appearance might make him subject to arrest.
The Polish-born Polanski, 75, has been living in self-imposed exile since fleeing the United States in 1978 after admitting he had sex with a girl he hired as a model for a photo shoot. Polanski, who had already been incarcerated for a psychological diagnosis for 42 days, had been scheduled to be sentenced and sent back to prison. The judge issued a warrant for his arrest that is still in effect.
The motion quotes court spokesman Alan Parachini as telling members of the media that Polanski was required to make a court appearance on his request for dismissal. Hummel said that issue must be resolved by a judge.
"The court's public comments constituted a prejudgment of the merits of Mr. Polanski's request ... without having received full briefing, evidence or argument from the parties," the motion said.
Hummel also alleged that the court and the district attorney's office had mounted "a campaign in the media in an apparent attempt to protect one of its own judges."
He maintains that Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler tried to resolve the Polanski case in 1997 in a deal that would have required televised coverage of Polanski's court appearance. The court has denied that such a requirement was proposed.
District attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said the office would file a response to the motion for dismissal on Tuesday.
A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Jan. 21 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Polanski, the director of "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby," has continued to direct films while in exile, including the 2002 Holocaust drama "The Pianist," for which he won the best-director Academy Award.
The woman with whom Polanski admitted having sex has said that she wants the charge dropped and that Polanski should be allowed to return to the United States.
The case was a sensation when it broke. Polanski, the widower of Manson family murder victim Sharon Tate, was arrested for having sex with the girl. He was accused of giving her Quaaludes and champagne, taking her into a hot tub nude and having sex with her.
The effort to wipe out the charge comes after an HBO documentary, "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," which portrayed the late Superior Court Judge Laurence J. Rittenband as a publicity hound who held news conferences and engaged in extra judicial meetings about the case.