Thursday, October 01, 2009

Why Polanski Should Be Freed

For all those clamoring to see Roman Polanski extradited for his 32-year-old statutory rape, the fact that is forgotten here is that determination of guilt is no longer a legal issue. Polanski agreed many years ago to plead guilty to "unlawful sexual intercourse" under a deal that sentenced him to time served in a mental institution, which he had completed.

If the court revisits the plea bargain in a case this high a public profile, then no prosecutor in the United States will be believed ever again.

This means that every case will have to go through trial, even slam-dunk, open-and-shut cases. It will clog the courts to the point that no one will ever get their constitutionally guaranteed speedy trial. Fewer people will be convicted of crimes they committed and, one way or another, thousands of seriously dangerous criminals will walk free.

Is the Puritan yen to pin yet another scarlet letter on another public figure that strong? Is it worth it?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Judges are under no obligation to honor plea bargins, and they ignore them all the time. True, more often than not they honor them, and true, it's important that they do so that people will trust the prosecutors as they try to make the system work, but that doesn't mean that when a judge decides to ignore one the accused (and admitted) child rapist (though I accept he didn't plead guilty to rape) should then flee the country and go on the run for over 30 years all the while blaming his victim and his murdered wife and mother for his bad behavior. He's reprehensible, and bringing him back will not cause the whole system to fall apart. He isn't that important, and most people aren't smart enough to make the connection anyway.

Geneviève said...

So, you play the devil's advocate in these antipodes? ("l'emmerdeur public" en somme -- et en argot:))This role fits you perfectly...

Schmutzie said...

So, if he served his time, then why has he had to avoid the United States all these years? We already know that he plead guilty to that charge, but if this case was indeed as finished as you make it sound, I doubt that he would be sitting in a jail cell in Europe right now. You said that I got my facts wrong, but I'm not so sure you have yours right.

Cecilieaux said...

The plea bargain comes from an era in which there were gentlemen, quite unlike the most courageous Anonymous, to agree on something based on their word. Obviously, no one is obligated to anything in such circumstances. But trust in such a system falls apart every time someone dishonors a word -- especially when the case, for reasons that transcend its legal importance, has such a high public profile.

As for Schmutzie, she should do herself the honor of reading the facts, prior to which she will have to learn to read. I did not write that the case was finished; I merely wrote that there was a bargain under which Polanski had tendered a plea. People who can't be bothered to find out what they are talking about, especially when information is widely accessible, might wish to consider silence.

Mers said...

The fact that Polanski skipped the country after his conviction suggests to me that he didn't hold up his end of the original deal. Because of this, there's no reason for the original plea bargain should be honoured in my opinion.

If he were skirting a parking ticket or j-walking fine, I would agree that it was overzealous, but the man raped a 13 year old girl or at least admitted to having "unlawful sexual intercourse" with her. He was 44 at the time. There is no excuse, and he should be held accountable - no matter what tragedies he has endured or how great his films are. I don't see any grey area.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with you that I am no gentleman...seeing as I am in fact a lady. I am sorry for leaving my comment anonymously, but I came to your site from your comment on MamaPop, and I do not like to leave my information on sites I don't really know. It is not because I want to distance myself from my comment (I have made similar remarks on other sites with my name present) but because I don't know anything about you, having not read your site before, and I didn't want to open myself up to getting endless hate mail from you if you turned out to be a loon. Sorry.

Hendaque said...

I am not an expert on this case, so hesitate to express my opinion and disagree with our esteemed blogger as I might get called on it.
The fact that the prosecution wanted to give Polanski time served in a hospital is reprehensible, and the judge made the right decision. You label the judge's ruling as "a Puritan yen to pin yet another scarlet letter on another public figure". Is our esteemed blogger saying child rapists should not face prison just because they are famous? To do so is to ignore the wound that this child has had to carry for the rest of her life. If he had been poor, escaping would not have been so easy. Letting him go scott free is what would encourage crime, not his prosecution.
How would you feel if it were your 13 year old had been raped? He has lived a fulfilling, interesting and profitable life. His victim is scarred for life. I see the wounds every day.

SUEB0B said...

Polanski was no gentleman. He did not hold up his part of the plea agreement. His legal woes were re-opened when he fled to escape justice.

And just because I don't think people should be allowed to drug and sodomize 13-year-olds does not make me a Puritan.

Cecilieaux said...

The fascinating thing here is that barely a few days ago, I posted a little essay on why Iran should be allowed to do what Iran wants. Not a peep from anyone.

But touch something like sex and everybody has something to say. The level of discourse is discouraging.