An extensive whine translated into several languages:
It is true: 33 years ago I pleaded guilty, and I served time at the prison for common law crimes at Chino, not in a VIP prison. That period was to have covered the totality of my sentence. By the time I left prison, the judge had changed his mind and claimed that the time served at Chino did not fulfil the entire sentence, and it is this reversal that justified my leaving the United States.
No, it didn’t.
It is important to note a few points, based on a reading of the publicly available documents in the case, including Polanski’s plea transcript and a Court of Appeals decision extensively setting forth the underlying facts.
1. Roman Polanski did not plead guilty based on the assurance that he would receive only a brief 42-day prison sentence as his entire punishment. When he pled, he knew he could receive as much as 20 years in prison. Neither the judge nor anyone else had made him any promises about what his sentence would be, and his plea did not and could not rely on any promise or assurance from the judge.
2. It is alleged that, on a later date in September 1977, the judge told the lawyers in chambers that he intended to send Polanski to state prison for a “diagnostic study” (which is normally for a period of 90 days) as Polanski’s entire punishment. The lawyers have filed affidavits stating that the judge was told that this procedure was improper, as such diagnostic studies are not intended to serve as punishment, but rather as a tool to allow an evaluation of the defendant, to help determine what further punishment, if any, is appropriate.
3. Polanski served only 42 days instead of the usual 90 — and it has been alleged that the judge wanted to send him back to prison for the balance of that 90 days.
4. The Court of Appeal has said that if Polanski believed that he had been wronged by the judge in any way, there were several options available to him. Given that the Deputy District Attorney on the case is a forthright and honest individual, as Polanski and his lawyer concede, Polanski could have addressed these issues contemporaneously with the full cooperation of that Deputy District Attorney.
Instead, Polanski chose to flee. His actions were not justified.
Speaking only for myself (as I always do on this blog), I have my doubts as to whether the Swiss have any intention of releasing Polanski to the U.S. But regardless of how this all comes out, the way he has flouted our justice system has never been justified.