LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lawyers for Roman Polanski said on Tuesday the film director should receive no further jail time for a 1977 sex crime and argued his offense was not extraditable under terms of a U.S. treaty with Switzerland.
In court papers submitted ahead of a January 22 hearing, the Oscar-winning film director’s Los Angeles attorneys argued that no further punishment was merited because Polanski had done what a judge asked after agreeing to plead guilty to unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Polanski spent 42 days in a California prison in 1977 undergoing psychiatric assessment in what his lawyers say was a deal that was supposed to serve as his full punishment.
But the French-Polish national fled Los Angeles on the eve of his formal sentencing in 1978 believing that the judge in the case, Laurence Rittenband, who is now dead, would renege on that agreement.
Polanski, 76, who has spent much of the last 30 years in France, was arrested in September on a U.S. warrant as he entered Switzerland for a film festival.
His lawyers also said Polanski opposed the extradition on the grounds the U.S. treaty with Switzerland covered offenses with outstanding sentences or penalties of at least six months. The attorneys said the director of “The Pianist,” “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby” had served his sentence.
A full hearing on the matter is scheduled for Friday. It follows a suggestion by a California appeals court in December that sentencing Polanski in his absence would be one way to resolve the decades-long battle to bring him to justice and to air widespread allegations of judicial misconduct in the case.
Los Angeles prosecutors have vehemently opposed the idea, saying Polanski must return to California, should not be treated differently because he is a celebrity, and should not dictate to the Los Angeles court from afar.
Swiss authorities have said they will make a decision on extradition early this year.
Editing by Vicki Allen