Roman Polanski’s attorneys filed an appeal Thursday asking that a special counsel be appointed to investigate alleged judicial and prosecutorial misconduct in the director’s 32-year-old sex case.
They cited new evidence provided by the original prosecutor in the case who testified in a recent series of secret sessions that he tried to disqualify the original judge in 1977 on grounds of misconduct but was ordered by his superiors not to do so.
The lawyers also accused the current prosecutor of giving false information to Swiss authorities to support Polanski’s extradition to the United States when they knew his potential sentence did not fall within Swiss requirements to order his return.
The appeal said prosecutors were well aware that the now deceased judge intended for Polanski to serve no more than 90 days in prison when the director pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Swiss authorities have said they will extradite Polanski only if they know he will be sentenced to at least six months behind bars.
The appeal was filed in the California Second District Court of Appeal. That court has already ruled on the case once. The lawyers accused the current judge in the case, Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza, of failing to abide by recommendations in an appellate ruling last year.
The judge also cited the length of time Polanski had been a fugitive and the deterrent factor for others who might consider fleeing to escape justice.
Polanski was initially indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molesting and sodomy. He later pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse.
In court documents, Polanski’s attorneys said the late Superior Court Judge Laurence J. Rittenband sentenced the director in 1978 to a diagnostic study at a California prison where he served 42 days.
Although Rittenband told attorneys that would be Polanski’s full sentence, he later indicated he was going to renege on the bargain and give him a harsher sentence at a scheduled hearing.
Polanski fled to France and has been a fugitive ever since. He remains under house arrest in Switzerland, where he is fighting extradition.