Film Director Roman Polanski’s legal effort to resolve a criminal conviction for having sex with a 13-year-old girl is being threatened by infighting among members of his legal team in advance of his next court date in early December.
Lawyers Douglas Dalton, Bart Dalton and Chad Hummel, who are representing Polanski in the United States are trying to distance their client from French attorney Herve Temime. They say Temime, who wants to fight extradition, is not authorized to speak for the director.
Polanski faces up to two years in prison if he is extradited but if he does not agree to go voluntarily, the legal process could take months or years before he is returned, if at all.
The Los Angeles attorneys said questions about the criminal case would be addressed in court. A new hearing is set for Dec. 10 in Los Angeles.
Polanski, 76, has been jailed in Switzerland ever since he was apprehended upon his arrival to accept an award for his film achievements.
The director was indicted on six charges, including rape, for having sex after giving the girl champagne and drugs. He pleaded guilty to one count of sex with a minor. But he fled the United States in 1978 while awaiting sentencing. A warrant for his arrest has been outstanding ever since.
The latest episode in the case began when Temime, told the French Le Figaro newspaper Friday (Nov. 20) that Polanski would not return voluntarily to the United States. But Polanski’s LA lawyers were quick to shoot down his comments.
“The French lawyers do not represent him in the case and do not speak for him about it,” they said in a statement. Only the Los Angeles lawyers, and Dr. Lorenz Erni in Switzerland and Polanski himself “are authorized to speak on his behalf” about the case, the statement said.
Temime, who has represented Polanski in France, told Le Figaro that he believed Polanski has been punished enough.
The director of such famed films as “Chinatown” underwent psychiatric tests during a 42-day period in detention in California in 1978.
Temime said the passage of time should also weigh in any extradition decision and charged that Polanski did not receive a fair trial.
“For all these reasons, among others, his position remains unchanged: he will not accept being extradited to the United States,” he said.
Temime said Polanski was bearing up well in prison but had asked to be released provisionally and was prepared to offer a substantial financial bond as well as other guarantees against flight, including wearing an electronic bracelet.