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Polanski’s attorney asks judge to sentence client in absentia

LOS ANGELES — Roman Polanski’s attorney said April 25 he will again ask a judge to sentence the Oscar-winning fugitive filmmaker in absentia in connection with his 1977 guilty plea to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.

“We’ll make another motion for him to be sentenced in absentia,” Polanski’s attorney, Harland Braun, told reporters outside the downtown Los Angeles courtroom after a brief hearing.

Braun said he will make the latest request as a result of the voter-approved Proposition 57, which he said would give Polanski “two days credit for every one day that he would do in custody as opposed to one-for-one.”

The director, writer and producer — who won an Oscar in 2002 for “The Pianist” — pleaded guilty in 1977, but fled to France in 1978 before his sentencing and still lives in Europe. Southern California authorities have tried for years to bring him back to America.

Braun has maintained that Polanski has already done more than enough time behind bars, including time he spent at a state prison in Chino in the late 1970s for a pre-sentencing diagnostic examination and also in jail and under house arrest in Switzerland in 2009 as Swiss authorities considered an extradition request.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon — who noted in an April 3 ruling that another local judge had denied the sentencing-in-absentia request in 2010 — told Braun that he does not believe that Proposition 57 has any application to the case against Polanski.

In the April 3 ruling, the judge spurned Braun’s request for a determination that Polanski has already served enough time in custody in connection with his guilty plea. Braun had said in court papers that Polanski would return for a sentencing hearing if the judge determined that the director has “already done his time.”

But the judge ruled there is “no sufficient or compelling basis for reconsideration of these issues.”

“Polanski is not entitled to avail himself of this court’s power to hear his demands while he openly stands in contempt of a legal order from this very court,” Gordon wrote.

The judge also denied the defense’s request to honor an alleged promise by now-deceased Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Laurence Rittenband to forego additional jail time for Polanski in exchange for the filmmaker’s submission to a diagnostic examination in state prison.

Gordon ruled that Polanski must present himself to the court to seek such relief.

The case is due back in court June 9 when the judge is expected to hear the defense’s request to unseal a transcript of the closed-door testimony of former Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson in 2010.

Polanski’s attorney told reporters outside court that the case could go before California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal if the judge denies the latest request for Polanski to be sentenced without being in court.

Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee has said that Braun is asking for special treatment for his client.

“The People simply do not believe that it is in the best interests of justice to give a wealthy celebrity different treatment from any other fugitive from justice,” the prosecutor said.



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