Director Polanski will not attend U.S. court hearing

Mon May 4, 2009 8:25pm EDT
 
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Attorneys for Roman Polanski said in a court filing on Monday that the film director will not return to the United States from Europe this week to contest in person his 1978 conviction for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Polanski would be arrested if he set foot on U.S. soil and his decision not to return ends his efforts to have his conviction dismissed, legal experts said.

In February, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza refused to consider Polanski's request to have the conviction dismissed as long as he remained a fugitive.

The Oscar-winning director fled the United States for France to avoid prison after his conviction.

"I think it was always pretty clear that if Polanski wasn't willing to show up, the chances of (a judge) wanting to deal with this case at this stage was probably pretty unlikely," said Stan Goldman, a professor at Loyola Marymount Law School in Los Angeles.

Polanski, 75, is the director of such films as "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown." He won an Oscar for directing the 2002 movie "The Pianist." He tried to have his 1978 guilty plea thrown out on claims that the judge in the case was improperly coached by a prosecutor.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

 
<p>Polish-born film director Roman Polanski awaits a public talk in Potsdam, February 19, 2009. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke</p>