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Polanski lawyers say jurist wanted cameras

Original attorneys say judge made TV part of a deal to allow the director back into U.S.

June 12, 2008|Greg Braxton | Times Staff Writer

The original defense and prosecuting attorney in the Roman Polanski trial took the unusual step Wednesday of issuing a joint statement that accused a longtime Los Angeles Superior Court judge of lying, and continuing the judicial bungling that has marked the sex scandal since 1977.

Former District Atty. Roger Gunson, the prosecutor in the Polanski case, and Douglas Dalton, the film director's defense attorney, said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler discussed a deal in 1997 that would allow the director back into the country with the possibility of no jail time. During that meeting, Dalton said in the statement, Fidler made the offer contingent upon the proceedings being televised.

It was because of that condition that Polanski -- who fled the country in 1978 before sentencing and felt burned by the international media circus created by his original trial and conviction for unlawful intercourse with a minor -- declined to return to the United States, according to HBO's documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," which premiered Monday.

But the attorneys' statement came just two days after court officials attacked the documentary, contending that Fidler's requirement for televised coverage of a potential Polanski legal proceeding was "a complete fabrication." Further, court officials in statements to the media, said the false claim had the potential of injuring the judge's reputation.

Court officials successfully pressured HBO to amend the conclusion of its documentary at the last minute to reflect that there was no condition regarding televised coverage. Fidler, who did not hear the original Polanski case, presided over the televised Phil Spector murder trial.

But it's that latest correction that was attacked Wednesday by Gunson and Dalton, who both appear in the documentary. "It is our shared view that Monday's false and reprehensible statement by the Los Angeles Superior Court continues their inappropriate handling of the Polanski case," the joint statement said.

Neither attorney was available for further comment Wednesday.

Allan Parachini, the court's public information officer, said the court stands by its original position and continued to criticize the original documentary's conclusion.

Meanwhile, Richard Doyle, director of the specialized prosecutions bureau of the district attorney's office, and Sandi Gibbons, public information officer for the district attorney's office, also called the requirement of the televised proceeding "untrue."

In a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times, they said, "The judge involved is one of the most respected jurists in California. To sully his reputation . . . is unfair and unprofessional."

HBO executives said it was premature to consider whether the heightened disagreement over the meeting would result in further amending the film.


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