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Innovations In Polanski Apolgism

[ 75 ] July 12, 2010 |

While a couple of commenters to this thread raised reasonable (if not entirely convincing to me) questions about problems with the actions of California authorities in seeking extradition, I also saw an especially weak defense that, while apparently not entirely new, I think is new to the comment section here. I’ll quote one representative example since it’s the most coherent:

A thirty-year-old crime in which the victim herself has moved on and even expressed forgiveness toward the creepy culprit? Very important. The state must prosecute now, even though it neglected innumerable instances earlier to rectify the situation. Definitely not political. Definitely on the same level as our current institutionalized torture regime or the fraudulent practices of the banksters. Justice must be served.

Even leaving aside the often made and easily refuted argument in the first sentence (this will become relevant as soon as we change our legal system to one in which crimes are solely against other private individuals and not against the people), there’s so much illogic packed in here it’s hard to know where to begin. It reminds me of the argument that one group of workers shouldn’t be allowed to organize if some group of workers out there is subject to greater exploitation.

The obvious problem with citing John Yoo and Dick Cheney and CitiBank is that there is absolutely no logical or causal relationship between them and the Polanski case whatsoever. We can release every fugitive child rapist in the world and George Bush still isn’t going to be arrested. The argument also proves too much; if taken seriously, apparently we aren’t allowed to prosecute any crimes if someone somewhere is getting away with a worse offense. In other words, the argument isn’t meant to be taken seriously.  It’s just the Versailles defense of Polanski being made through other means. Nobody would argue that a garden variety child rapist who fled the jurisdiction should be exempt from legal sanction because Jay Bybee remains a federal judge. I hope.

This argument is a non-sequitur in another way as well. Even if it’s true that the extraditing Polanski is a highly suboptimal use of resources (which I don’t endorse), so what? I don’t know when it became the job of the Swiss authorities to assess the resource allocation of prosecutors in another country.  Rather, their obligation is to enforce the extradition treaty they duly signed with the United States, and they have presented no serious argument that it’s not enforceable in this case. And it’s worth noting again that the (very real) injustices of the American legal system are less relevant to Polanski than most other defendants. Polanski had the resources to file an appeal with excellent legal counsel, and if the California prosecutors acted illegally the remedy was to be found in a court of law.

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  1. wengler says:

    I gotta ask: Was every guy in Hollywood circa ’70s allowed one teenage girl to sodomize? Cause people usually get pissed off at child molestation rather than protect the perp.

  2. DrDick says:

    Laws and consequences are only for the little people. Rich white guys with powerful friends have an automatic lifetime get out of jail free card.

  3. lt says:

    Thank you, Scott, for your posts and responses on this issue.

    For folks who wonder, “what good is there in prosecuting this crime years later” – imagine that a woman or girl in your life has recently been raped or assaulted by a man who has more money or status or powerful friends than she does. Imagine that she’s deciding whether to come forward – perhaps not even to go to the police, but to confide in someone. Then she turns on the news and hears ‘liberal’ Hollywood types who are quick to condemn some safely distant injustice defend one of their own.

    Does she expect to be believed? Or does she imagine she’ll be accused of ruining the life and reputation of a good man who is, if not a famous artist, perhaps a pillar of his community, a loving husband and father and some such. This stuff doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

  4. Jamie says:

    Well, I think to give the argument the best possible frame that I can manage, it is sort of a, “don’t we have bigger problems than jailing some hi-status person over a crime that looks like it wasn’t all _that_ violent, and anyway a long time ago?”

    To which I personally respond, yes, yes we do have bigger problems, but are capable of doing all sorts of things at once. And while I, personally (and people I respect vary here) have little faith in punitive measures to really make things right, I do believe that the idea that a rapist, no matter how many years on, can and will be brought to justice, can have a useful effect on the future behavior of at least some people.

    There are many other factors – It mentions some of them above me, and I think the importance of judgement to render a stamp of approval on the notion that a young woman raped can and should be justified in seeking justice is important.

    Actually, now that I’m writing that, I don’t know how I feel about placing the deterrent effect over an individual justification. Oh, my, I’ll have to think more. But I am positive that it is silly to think that BP or the banksters or global warming or my pet getting lose somehow are being neglected because “we” are pursuing a rapist.

    The resource allocation one is interesting, too. Most sane people think that he’s a rapist, and even a lot of apologists adopt a “yes, but” stance. Why not deploy a drone and blow up the villa in which he resides, if he’s guilty, but too expensive to bring to justice? That would be much cheaper than tying up everyone’s time with dreary motions and international contracts and such, it isn’t like we worry about sovereignty all that much, so what’s the problem?

  5. jeer9 says:

    Glad to see that you’ve clarified the political nature of the extradition’s timing and remain comprehensive in your knowledge of all of the case’s particulars. I’m sure very little money was wasted on this pursuit and what was spent only enhances the arbitrary quality of its execution to a logical mind. The law really is about logic and presenting your arguments before clearly impartial judges. Justice, however, seems more of an artistic matter and is perhaps comprised of factors and elements outside the realm of logic and its vaunted expertise. Perhaps the coward will be extradited in the future from a more scrupulously legalistic and honorable country and then we can put the eighty-year-old bastard in prison for the rest of his life.

    • DrDick says:

      So old, rich white men are exempt from justice? Or is it that imperfect, traumatized 13 year olds do not deserve to have justice done for them? There is a very important social good in demonstrating publicly that we will punish the rich and powerful, no matter how long it takes, equally. It is central to the maintenance of democracy.

      • jeer9 says:

        What democracy would that be? And how closely do you follow the news?

        • DrDick says:

          And I am quite certain that your defense would be just as vociferous if Polanski was a poor Mexican laborer. What’s that I here, crickets?

          • jeer9 says:

            If it was being done after thirty years and resulted in the waste of enormous amounts of money, time, and energy, and its initiator was using the case as a platform to gain some high profile political publicity in his quest to win the state AG’s office, yes. But you’re right, we’re only arguing about this case because the fugitive is a prominent, accomplished idividual. Still, if we dispense with all of the dreams of someday prosecuting Yoo, Cheney, or Bush, it remains improbable that the resources of the Los Angeles county judicial system could not have been better allocated on more immediate, local violations. It’s not like the state lacks for miscarriages of justice or unsolved crimes. But nothing says law and order and raises one’s profile like the circus of a one or two year criminal proceeding against Mr. Rich and Famous. Throw in a few easily spared million on behalf of the careerist ass and the years almost slip away like a cherished hobby horse.

    • MAJeff says:

      Shorter Jeers:

      He raped a child? Who cares?

      • jeer9 says:

        If the extradition had been successful, no expense or energy should have been spared in its procedural resolution, despite the complications and complexities that have resulted over the thirty year time span. Whatever it took, the system could provide. The law must run its course without exception in order to serve as a lesson to all of those future elitist perverts and corrupt inhabitants of Versailles who will no doubt tremble at the moral of this story.

    • Jamie says:

      Whom do we prosecute?

      Please, Jeer, spell it out for me, because I don’t get it. I know we don’t prosecute an old, famous rapist in Europe.. But is there a “not worth it” factor that bends towards maybe doing so, if they haven’t run, or have been less successful at it?

      I have to assume that you don’t think the not-mythical, but really rare random urban predator in the bushes with a knife rapist shouldn’t go free, and also the home-invader-shotgun-escapee-rapist type.

      Where, and perhaps more interestingly, why, do you draw the line?

    • DocAmazing says:

      In related news, any criticism of the IDF’s actions in Gaza are entirely unjustified because women are being killed in Saudi Arabia.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      clarified the political nature of the extradition’s timing

      By the standard you’re using, what prosecution isn’t “political”?

      At any rate, since Polanski has been set free, John Yoo has been arrested, right? Why hasn’t this made the news?

      • jeer9 says:

        I draw the line at thirty years and a badly compromised prosecution. But hell, it’s only money. And if John Yoo is arrested in Spain thirty years from now and prosecuted, I’d say give it a fucking rest. You’ve missed the starting gate. I do look forward, however, to your being there and cheering on the process from your moral high horse. Just think of the lessons we will learn.

        • Brien Jackson says:

          This would be more convincing if the crime we were actually after him for was fleeing the jurisdiction. He already admitted to the child-rape, so that’s a total non-issue. I fail to see how it’s a good idea to set the precedent that if you’re a rich criminal who manages to flee to a posh existence in aristocratic minded European countries and evade the US for X number of years that you’ll be allowed to escape scot-free.

          • Scott Lemieux says:

            And, moreover, the “30 long years” argument would be much more convincing if the delay hadn’t been caused by Polanski’s own actions.

            • jeer9 says:

              … and exacerbated by the incompetence of the prosecuting DA who failed to file charges at the time in France. Now we have US legal authorities trying “to misuse the extradition process in violation of international legal customs to obtain a result they failed to obtain the first time.”
              Lemieux’s refrain: There must be blood.

              • What’s the misuse? What’s the violation? How can a California DA file charges in France?

              • jeer9 says:

                I stand corrected (along with the French lawyer, I guess). The US legal authorities at all times performed their duties with admirable competence. Justice delayed is … retribution to the letter of the law.

              • Holden Pattern says:

                You do know that the “justice delayed is justice denied” quote applies to the PERSON WHO WAS ACTUALLY HARMED, not the person who fled the country to avoid the justice, right?

                It’s like arguing with a handball court.

              • jeer9 says:

                Perhaps you haven’t been following the thread very closely, but this case, as I have been reminded, is not about the victim’s current feelings or mental health but concerns the people of California and the dire consequences that will result if our legal system allows criminals to flout its rules and avoid sentencing. In stating “Justice delayed is … retribution to the letter of the law,” I meant to convey the notion that justice is never denied in our host’s mind, not even after thirty years, because he wants his pound of flesh. Society cannot function properly unless the judicial wheels are allowed to churn inexorably toward some conclusion. Your serve.

  6. lt says:

    @jeer9 – Yes, if reasserting the principle of equal justice is political, it’s political. So what was your argument again?

  7. Nathan says:

    Rather, their obligation is to enforce the extradition treaty they duly signed with the United States, and they have presented no serious argument that it’s not enforceable in this case.

    No offence, but given that neither of us know bupkis about Swiss law it’s entirely possible they are following their obligations. No extradition treaty requires a country to extradite someone just because another country requested it.

    Polanski, apparently, raised serious questions about the fairness of the process in California and the American authorities refused to release the evidence the Swiss court demanded to assess those allegations. For all I know the process in Switzerland was a sham, but under given the bare facts we know the decision does not seem completely unreasonable.

    Polanski committed a terrible crime, but even child rapists have rights and deserve a fair process.

    This is hardly the only case where a country has refused to extradite someone based on misconduct in the justice system of the requesting state; just the most prominent. I agree with you that Polanski’s actions are indefensible and he committed a terrible crime which should not be minimized. But the fact remains he is now in Switzerland and he is entitled to whatever protection Swiss law offers him. Your rush to condemn the Swiss justice system based on nothing other than the fact that you do not like the result it reached in this case is almost as unseemly as the defences that have been offered for Polanski. Where there has been misconduct in the justice system sometimes the least bad outcome is to let a guilty person go free.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      but even child rapists have rights and deserve a fair process.

      I agree. He should be extradited to California and then by given a hearing by an fair tribunal.

      • Nathan says:

        The US is not a magical country with indisputably perfect courts the fairness of which other countries cannot question.

        According to the New York Times account, the Swiss had concerns that the judge promised Polanski he would be sentenced to time served if he was convicted, and the Americans refused to release the evidence to the Swiss that would address those concerns. The Swiss can’t be expected to blindly trust that the justice system of another country, even the US, is fair.

        • ajay says:

          The Swiss can’t be expected to blindly trust that the justice system of another country, even the US, is fair.

          The current official position in the US is that Polanski could – entirely legally, and at the sole discretion of the president – be assassinated in Switzerland, or could be kidnapped, brought back to the US, tortured, and then imprisoned without trial in solitary confinement for the rest of his life.
          Given that, it’s arguable that no country should be extraditing anyone at all to the US, but should instead be granting them refugee status on the grounds that they would not be assured of a fair trial if they were to return.

          • Brien Jackson says:

            Right, because obviously that will happen to famous, rich, white, celebrity directors.

            • ajay says:

              Well, until about 10 years ago I would have been equally dismissive about the possibility of it happening to anyone in the US. It seemed ridiculous until it started happening and now it’s generally accepted.

              • Scott Lemieux says:

                This again. Yes, as soon as we free enough child rapists arbitrary executive torture will be over. Keep waiting! By the way, have the Swiss or the French applied this alleged blanket ban on extraditions to the U.S. to any non-famous people?

          • joel dan walls says:

            I used to favor assassinating Polanski, but afte reading this, I think we ought to send the drone to ajay’s place.

    • John says:

      Are there any good legal analyses of this on the web, BTW?

  8. John says:

    You can find the U.S.-Swiss treaty of extradition here.

    IANAL, but I don’t see anything in the treaty which allows the Swiss to deny extradition because they think there were irregularities in Polanski’s trial. I don’t know much about Swiss law, but obviously Polanski’s acts must have been a crime under Swiss law or it wouldn’t have gotten this far.

    Once that’s established, there’s only very specific reasons that extradition can be denied. They can deny extradition for “political offenses,” but this is obviously not a political offense by any reasonable standard. They can deny extradition if they have jurisdiction and are going to prosecute him themselves, which is obviously not operative here. There seems to be a fairly broad exception for convictions in absentia, but Polanski was not convicted in absentia – he plead guilty before fleeing.

    On the whole, it seems to my non-legally-trained eye that the Swiss are full of shit here, and that they have absolutely no grounds to deny extradition. Their excuse seems like complete bullshit – how on earth is the decades later testimony of the prosecutor as to his informal discussions with the judge relevant to any of the provisions of the extradition treaty? I don’t see anything in the treaty which allows them to deny extradition on this basis.

  9. Nathan says:

    IANAL, but I don’t see anything in the treaty which allows the Swiss to deny extradition because they think there were irregularities in Polanski’s trial.

    In Canada, and I presume in Switzerland, there are requirements in domestic law that must be satisfied before someone is extradited.

    For instance, there was a recent case (unfortunately I cannot find the citation) where an American prosecutor threatened to bring more severe charges against accuseds who were in Canada unless they consented to be extradited. There is no provision in the extradition treaty that covers this, but Canadian court denied the extradition request based on this interference with the process in Canada.

    You could well be right that the Swiss decision is unjustified, but that cannot be answered by merely looking at the extradition treaty.

  10. Lupin says:

    I hope you don’t mind if I (a French lawyer) question the basic assumption that I see here that US law should automatically trump French law in this matter.

    What we have is a crime committed on US soil by a French citizen. Both countries have jurisdiction. France has routinely prosecuted its citizens from crimes committed abroad.

    Mr. Polanski was within its rights to leave the US jurisdiction if he felt that his rights were being violated (ie: the judge’s alleged intention not to abide by the terms of the plea bargain and impose a different sentence) and return to his own country.

    He may be a fugitive from justice in the eyes of US Law, but he was not in the eyes of French law. In fact, since plea bargaining is not recognized for serious crimes under French Law, Mr. Polanski was and still is technically innocent, since there was no trial and no verdict to be enforced.

    (A proper US verdict had there been one could have been enforced against Mr. Polanski in France.)

    Had the case be deemed important, morally or legally, either the victim or the DA could have filed a criminal complaint against Mr. Polanski in France. It would have been very easy, basically filing a certified translation of the original charges.

    I’ll skip over the procedural bits, but had the State Prosecutor been able to prove that Mr. Polanski had sex with a 13-year-old (which shouldn’t have been too difficult to do), according to the French Penal Code, he would have faced a minimum sentence of 5 years in jail.

    It is hard to understand why this routine procedure was not followed.

    The French Statute of Limitations on the original charges has now run out, so since the DA failed to file any charges at all under French jurisdiction, Mr. Polanski is innocent of any crimes.

    I don’t quite see why American law should automatically trump French law in this matter, especially when the Americans did not do what they should have done in the first place, and screwed up their case before that.

    The Swiss-US treaty is quite clear that extradition applies only if the sentence in question exceeds one year (art 2); the only sentence of record (sort of) in this case is 90 days, of which Mr. Polanski served 42 days, and clearly the DA failed to convince the Swiss otherwise.

    I deplore the actions attributed to by Mr. Polanski, and would have had no qualms seeing him being sentenced to 5 years in jail in France. That would have been the proper course of justice, and it is entirely the DA’s fault that it didn’t happen.

    But I do condemn the meretricious actions of the DA who tried to misuse the extradition process in violation of international legal customs to obtain a result they failed to obtain the first time.

    Whether you find the results palatable or not, the Swiss were correct.

    We either believe in the law, or we choose mob rule. In this case, all too many Americans appear to have chosen the latter.

    • Joey Maloney says:

      Mr. Polanski was within its rights to leave the US jurisdiction if he felt that his rights were being violated

      What exactly do you mean by “rights” here? His rights as a French citizen? His rights under “natural law”? Or something else?

      Because there certainly is no right under US law to flee the jurisdiction because you think you’re getting screwed by the justice system; not even if you are in fact being so screwed.

      • Lupin says:

        This is a scenario with two conflicting jurisdictions.

        I’m not saying that your “frame” is wrong; only that this not the only frame applicable.

        This happens a lot in child custody cases with parents of different countries and sometimes conflicting judgments regarding who has custody.

        What may be deemed “kidnapping” in one country (and is) will not in the other country. In the absence of a treaty, the matter will be resolved through diplomatic channels.

        (There was a recent French-Russian case which I could outline if you are interested.)

        Being a French citizen, Mr.Polanski had the right to return to France, especially in light of the mishandling of the case in California.

        So he may be a fugitive in the eyes of US justice, but he is not in the eyes of French justice (for all the reasons I explained in my earlier post), and more directly relevant, Swiss justice as well.

        That factor therefore had no bearing (and nor should it have had any) on the Swiss decision.

        I hope this explains things a little better.

        • Anonymous says:

          Being a French citizen, Mr.Polanski had the right to return to France, especially in light of the mishandling of the case in California.

          See, this would have been wrong even without the last clause there, but that last clause shows you’re not even trying. Did he have the right to return to France or not? If he did, why would his own personal assessment of whether the case was “mishandled” matter? Of course you don’t actually believe that anyone who commits a crime while abroad can exercise some right to just pick up and leave if they don’t like the way justice is being administered.

      • lawguy says:

        I’m not sure what right you are referring to, but if I was being screwed (not to say that Polanski was) I would certainly run if I could rather than take whatever unreasonable punishment was to be given me.

        So I suspect would you.

    • Brien Jackson says:

      I was going to reply at length, but I’m not really sure there’s much of a point, so I’ll just say: what utter bullshit.

      • Lupin says:

        Ignorance mixed with arrogance. That sums up your position rather well.

        Polanski could (and likely would) have served years in jail — deservedly so — if not for similar ignorance and arrogance.

        • Brien Jackson says:

          Your response is wholly ignorant and nonsensical. First of all, there is no right to have a plea bargain honored. The prosecution can not agree to nor guarantee a sentence, only make a recommendation. The judge has full discretion to impose whatever sentence they want under the statute. The defendant has the right to withdraw his plea. There’s no basis whatsoever to claim this was a violation of Polanski’s rights, and certainly no basis to claim he has a right to flee the jurisdiction after pleading guilty. That’s just complete and utter ridiculousness, especially invoking statute of limitations at the same time.

          You did, however, do a great job of summing up why no one believes the French (or Swiss, or Polish, etc) would actually do anything about it.

          • lawguy says:

            I am tired of hearing people say that there is no right to have a plea bargin honored by a judge. No there is no right, but that is not the real question. The system (for better or worse)in order to work requires the judge to follow the plea bargain. If he or she doesn’t enough times, then no one pleas in their court and things grind to a halt.

            Every defense attorney and prosecutor know that when they make a deal and then run it by the judge that is what happens. In over 25 years of practice the number of times the judge has failed to honor a deal in one of my cases has been less, I think, than a dozen.

            What ever else there is about this matter I am sick and tired of people pontificating: “You can’t rely.” Yes you can.

            • Scott Lemieux says:

              Can one of the Polanski apologists here point to a shred of evidence that the judge was going to impose a sentence inconsistent with the plea bargain Polanski reached with prosecutors? Otherwise, these arguments are all a non-sequitur.

              Back here in the land of actual evidence, there’s little reason to believe that Polanski’s rights were violated, and if he believed they were the proper forum to adjudicate his rights claims was anAmerican appellate court.

              • lawguy says:

                Actually , I believe you have argued several times that plea bargans did not have to be honored by the judge and that is what I’m responding to. Also the guy who posted just above me.

                So I fail to see how that is a non sequitor.

            • Brien Jackson says:

              That’s a fair enough point, but it has nothing to do with rights. It might be bad practice for a judge to ignore a plea agreement, but it’s not a violation of the defendant’s rights. Nor is it of any concern to the French or Swiss.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Swiss-US treaty is quite clear that extradition applies only if the sentence in question exceeds one year (art 2); the only sentence of record (sort of) in this case is 90 days

      Um, no, the treaty is quite clear that extradition applies only if the offense is punishable by a sentence exceeding one year. Try harder.

    • joel dan walls says:

      Mob rule? What crap. Lupin is arguing that anyone who doesn’t like a particular couort has a RIGHT to abscond.

    • DrDick says:

      Let me see if I follow your logic here. Are you saying that if I go to France and rape your daughter, then I have an absolute right to flee prosecution if I do not like the outcome and that I should not be extradited back to France? Because that is exactly what it sounds like you are saying.

  11. Josh E. says:

    I don’t understand why the DOJ refused to release the sealed testimony. According to the NYT it was the testimony from last January of one of Polanski’s lawyers about the alleged promise from the judge. Given how unreliable such testimony, 30 years after the fact, would be, why wouldn’t DOJ unseal it (assuming it was actually in their power to do so)?

    • John says:

      Because it’s an excuse? If they had released it, the Swiss would be saying that it casts grave doubts on the justice of the extradition request, which they have to deny. This was pretty clearly a decision in search of a rationale.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        This.

      • Josh E. says:

        But why did the DOJ gave the Swiss this excuse? If they had released it, then they could at least criticize the Swiss for crediting dubious testimony. Now they look incompetent, and Polanski apologists can say “there really must have been something daming in that testimony if DOJ wouldn’t even turn it over.”

  12. Observer says:

    Scott (and a couple of others):
    judging by the amount of comments and responses made, there’s definitely a burr under someone’s saddle.

    But your argument (“their obligation is to enforce the extradition treaty they duly signed with the United States”) make it seem as if this is what countries do: sign treaties and then write a computer program to determine robot responses.

    No country does this. As you darn well know, inter-country transactions only take place within the context of national interest. All responses are always political and frankly need to be that way.

    The Swiss, for whatever reason, deem it to be not in their interest. If the US doesn’t like it, there’s lots of responses available. There’s no referee here. Contracts between countries cannot be enforced in the same way that contracts within a country can. There is no such entity to do the enforcement. As you well know.

    The official reasons are just that; no one takes them seriously. There’s no point in arguing that they make no sense. It was never the intent nor design.

    I’m just puzzled why you’re making this an issue.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Well, yes, but many people are arguing that the reasons offered by the Swiss government do make sense, and are also continuing to defend a child rapist who fled the jurisdiction and has no credible argument that his legal rights were violated. So I think this is worth addressing.

      • Observer says:

        Fair enough. Every side has a set of people to justify things which do not make sense.

        I think the fairly predictable outcome was based on the following:
        1. The US was deemed to be playing “dirty pool” with the extradition.
        2. Swiss do *not* appreciate the US involving them in a French issue in a child sex case and a fugitive traveller. Bad for EU relations and bad for Swiss business.

        so logically, the Swiss would just
        1) wait for the issue to leave the front pages and
        2) tell the U.S. to f-off (diplomatically)
        and
        3) figure out the right timing to announce it.

        I’m with you; one would have to contort oneself into a pretzel to argue the actuall official legal reasons makes sense from a legal standpoint.

      • joel dan walls says:

        Perhaps an appropriately cynical interpretation of events is that yes, of course an extradition treaty is a political instrument and nobody should be surprised when it is invoked/upheld/denied in a political way with an eye on domestic politics. Fine. That certainly seems to be what has happened in Switzerland. And some people are saying bullshit to what the Swiss did.

        In other words, the statement “but it’s just politics” does not make the latest turn of events somehow off-limits to criticism.

  13. Scott Lemieux says:

    Actually , I believe you have argued several times that plea bargans did not have to be honored by the judge and that is what I’m responding to.

    This is true too, but in Polanski’s case his representatives don’t even seem to be arguing that the sentence they were worried about the judge imposing was inconsistent with the agreement they signed, so it’s irrelevant to this case.

  14. anniecat45 says:

    We are quick enough to endorse the wishes of the victims when they express rage and demand a perpetrator get MORE time. Why are we totally ignoring the wishes of the victim in this case?

    I don’t have the statute in front of me but I believe judges are required to take that into account. Maybe the rest of us should, too, even if we don’t agree with those wishes.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      I don’t think the wishes of the victim should be honored in either direction. Prosecutions are done on the part of the people, not the individual who was wronged.

      But in fact, most “victim’s rights” statutes only honor the victim’s wishes in the direction of harsher punishment. For example, in most jurisdictions, juries and judges in capital cases aren’t supposed to reject the death penalty because the victim was–and/or his/her family is–categorically opposed to capital punishment.

      • lawguy says:

        The victims wishes weigh in the penalty phase, but not in the guilt or innocence phase.

        So I guess one could argue that first Polanski had to be brought to court and then the court should listen to the victim and her wishes would help guide the judge in the sentencing.

  15. blowback says:

    “Rather, their obligation is to enforce the extradition treaty they duly signed with the United States, and they have presented no serious argument that it’s not enforceable in this case.”

    The same could be said of the United States and its obligation under the extradition treaty it signed with Venezuela in the case of Luis Posada Carriles and the bombing of Cubana Flight 455 in 1976. And if they had good reasons not to extradite him, then the United States should have prosecuted him as they are “obliged, without exception whatsoever” under the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, 974 U.N.T.S. 178, entered into force January 26, 1973. So perhaps the US should put its own house in order first.

    BTW, it was rather sweet of the judge to dismiss the extradition case from Venezuela because he was concerned that Venezuela might torture this murdering terrorist scumbag at the same time as the United States was torturing innocent civilians as well as some terrorists in various parts of the world.

    Also Switzerland is a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights and that trumps any extradition treaty although so far this is probably not relevant to Polanski’s case but you should know that the European Court of Human Rights is concerned that both the sentence of life without parole and incarceration in the Federal Supermax facility are inhumane and degrading treatment and the ECHR has an absolute prohibition for a signatory to remove anyone to a place where they would be subject to inhumane or degrading treatment. So maybe the US should clean up its prison system as well while it is about it.

    • joel dan walls says:

      No wonder the Swiss balked. I mean, the Los Angeles DA and howling mobs all over the US were calling for life without parole for Polanski. They also wanted to have his Oscar statuette melted down.

      • blowback says:

        I did say the ECHR moves are probably irrelevant to Polanski with the existing case. I don’t know what the maximum sentence for child rape is in California, so if a new charge were involved with the possibility of life without parole then it does become relevant.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t France, Italy, and the Netherlands (among others) allow life without parole? Do other EU countries refuse to extradite to them, or do they have no discretion?

      • blowback says:

        AFAIK, historically they have as have Austria, Denmark and maybe others but since the ECHR is concerned about it, they probably won’t be able to in the future.

  16. [...] the way, where was that prosecution of Dick Cheney I was promised when several European states collaborated to ensure that Polanski wasn’t [...]

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