We’ve already mentioned the recent arrest of acclaimed film director Roman Polanski (pictured at right, with uber-hottie Adrien Brody). But it’s
a slow news day controversial, so we’d like to give you a chance to discuss it in more depth.
Over at the WSJ Law Blog, Ashby Jones has a nice write-up. He explains the background:
The Oscar-winning film director was arrested on Sunday in Zurich on a 31-year-old warrant issued in the U.S. for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Polanski was arrested, at the request of the United States, as he jetted into Switzerland to collect an award for his life’s work.
Local police arrested Polanski at the airport upon his arrival in Zurich, where he was to receive a lifetime-achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival. Polanski was jailed pending a decision on whether to extradite him to the U.S., according to the Swiss Justice Ministry….
Polanski fled the U.S. in 1978 after he pleaded guilty to having had sexual intercourse with girl — the allegation was that he gave the girl alcohol and part of a quaalude before raping her. Since then, he has lived in France, where he was born. French authorities refused to extradite him to the U.S., claiming that his crime didn’t fall under those covered by treaties between the two countries.
According to ABC News, which obtained comment from Polanski’s French lawyer, the director plans to fight extradition.
Should the authorities keep pursuing Polanski? Some pros and cons, plus a reader poll, after the jump.
A non-exhaustive list of some pros of prosecution:
- The underlying crime is pretty sick — “disgusting and heinous,” as Ashby Jones put it.
- Polanski’s guilt isn’t in dispute. After claiming for years that it was a consensual encounter — which wouldn’t undermine his guilt anyway, given the victim’s age — Polanski now admits that “it was not the right thing to do.”
- After committing the crime and pleading guilty, Polanski fled the United States in 1978, becoming a fugitive from justice.
- Sure, celebrities should be treated just like everyone else in the legal system — but doesn’t letting a high-profile defendant go free, in a high-profile way, undermine respect for law?
- The French government is opposed to continued prosecution, condemning the Polanski arrest as a “terrible thing and very unfair.” And don’t we love sticking it to the French?
And here are a few cons:
- The crime is pretty darn old — from 32 years ago. Isn’t it time to give it a rest?
- His victim takes a fairly forgiving attitude towards Polanski.
- Although he doesn’t dispute committing the act, Polanski claims that “there was no premeditation” and that “it was something that just happened.”
- Doesn’t the government have better things to do? The WSJ highlights this quotation from Patrick Goldstein of the L.A. Times:
“[A]t a time when California is shredding the safety net that protects the poor and the unemployed, not to mention the budget of the public school system, you’d hope that L.A. County prosecutors had better things to do than cause an international furor by hounding a film director for a 32-year-old sex crime, especially one that Polanski’s victim wants to put behind her.”
- Questions have been raised regarding the propriety of the original prosecution. Goldstein writes: “[T]he original prosecution of Polanski was marred by all sorts of embarrassing missteps and strange behavior, largely by Laurence Rittenband, the original presiding judge.”
What do you think? Sound off in the comments, and take our poll.
Roman Polanski Lawyers to Fight Extradition [ABC News]
Is the Polanski Prosecution Warranted or Best Left Alone? [WSJ Law Blog]
Roman Polanski still being hounded by L.A. County prosecutors [The Big Picture / Los Angeles Times]