A Los Angeles County judge Monday denied Roman Polanski's request to unseal transcripts of recent testimony by the original prosecutor in his 33-year-old sex crime case, rejecting arguments that they were necessary for the filmmaker's extradition proceedings.
Polanski's legal team contends that the transcripts prove that the L.A. County district attorney's office provided Swiss authorities with false and incomplete information in a request to extradite him.
But Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza ruled that he ordered Roger Gunson, a retired deputy district attorney, to testify earlier this year only in case he might be unable to attend a hearing if Polanski returns to Los Angeles. The judge said California law requires such testimony to remain sealed and noted that Swiss authorities had not requested the transcripts.
Polanski's lawyers argue that the transcripts would show that the judge overseeing Polanski's case in 1977 intended the filmmaker's 90-day diagnostic testing term in prison to be his full punishment behind bars. Polanski was released after 42 days. His attorneys say he fled the country after learning that the judge was going to send him back to prison for 48 more days.
Polanski's attorneys argue that the issue is important, in part, because the United States' extradition treaty with Switzerland allows the extradition of a defendant only if the remaining time still to be served is more than six months. They note that an affidavit by L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren that was given to Swiss authorities does not say Polanski's diagnostic testing was meant to serve as his full prison term.
"This affidavit does not provide the facts, and Mr. Gunson's testimony proves that," attorney Chad S. Hummel said in court Monday.
But Walgren described the allegation as "baseless and reckless." He said the U.S. Justice Department had reviewed Polanski's allegations and determined that the affidavit was accurate.
The district attorney's office, he said, is awaiting Polanski's return to Los Angeles for sentencing on his conviction for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. Prosecutors say the filmmaker faces up two years in state prison.