Movies

Not Bombshells But Details – Deadline

After 12 years in a lock field, former Los Angeles County prosecutor Roger Gunson’s conditional testimony within the Roman Polanski sex case was unsealed by court docket order on Thursday, and copies of a transcript had been made accessible on Sunday evening.

What the a number of hundred pages of testimony—taken over three days in 2010—lastly delivered was not a sequence of bombshell revelations. Since Polanski fled the nation earlier than sentencing in 1978, fixed examination of the case has left little room for surprises.

Rather, Gunson’s testimony supplied an extended, extremely detailed, deeply knowledgeable recap each of Polanski’s crime—which concerned the rape of a minor—and of alleged judicial and prosecutorial misconduct that adopted it.

Perhaps probably the most hanging particulars—apart from blunt descriptions of the crime, which might absolutely be repeated if Polanski ever got here to trial—concerned Gunson’s account of getting been blocked by superiors within the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office from asking that Judge Laurence J. Rittenband, now deceased, be disqualified from the case for misconduct. That failed effort occurred in August of 1977, when Gunson, then accountable for prosecuting Polanski, turned dismayed by Rittenband’s behavior of soliciting info and opinions exterior of outdoor of regular judicial channels. Gunson was sufficiently alarmed to draft a 20-page affidavit searching for recusal. But two superiors—after having affirmed its claims in a dialogue with Rittenband—declined to file it, with out clarification. Gunson took a direct trip in Florida, then returned to work on the case with a decide in whom he had no confidence.

The 2010 testimony was unsealed by an order from Los Angeles County Superior Court decide Sam Ohta, in response to an appeals court docket order reversing Ohta’s prior refusal to unseal the doc. The unsealing was sought not by Polanski—who had earlier tried and did not open the testimony—however by journalists Sam Wasson and William Rempel. They had been represented by a battery of legal professionals that included John Washington of the Schonbrun Seplow Harris Hoffman and Zeldes agency, Susan E. Seager of the University of California Irvine’s Press Freedom Center, and Gary Bostwick. Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon, who initially opposed the unsealing, reversed himself, acknowledging the necessity for a public examination of claims of official misconduct within the long-running case.

Gunson testified on three separate dates in February and March of 2010, at a time when health points cast doubt on his availability ought to the case ever proceed, both with Polanski’s return, or beneath an settlement by the court docket to finish his sentencing in absentia.

In massive half, he explicitly and beneath oath confirmed assertions he had already made on digital camera in Marina Zenovich’s 2008 documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired. Through a lot of the unsealed testimony, Zenovich’s narrative served as a information by way of the thicket of steps and missteps that become a 45-year authorized nightmare.

Among his core assertions within the transcript, Gunson makes clear that he believed Judge Rittenband inappropriately took enter “from all over the place”—from pals, the media, and a prosecutor, David Wells, who had no function within the case—and that he tried to orchestrate a “sham or fabrication” by dictating courtroom arguments by each Gunson and Polanski protection lawyer Douglas Dalton. Most particularly, Gunson stood by his declare, well-known at this level, that Rittenband improperly reneged on a plea deal, subjecting Polanski to the potential for substantial jail time after having assured him {that a} 42-day psychiatric examination in Chino State Prison can be his solely sentence.

For Gunson, in line with his testimony, use of the examination as a sentence was opposite to law. But so was Rittenband’s determination, within the face of public disapproval, to shift gears after Polanski’s detention, including a possible sentence of between six months and fifty years, however privately assuring legal professionals that he would let Polanski out of jail after he had served an extra 48 days.

With that mentioned, Gunson additionally testified that Polanski’s therapy was shockingly lenient. He was allowed to plead responsible solely to the lightest cost towards him, escaping a pending rape cost, supposedly to spare his 13-year-old sufferer the ordeal of a trial. His psychiatric examination was lower quick, to spare him perceived hazard within the Chino jail, and a probation officer, in an uncommon step, allowed him three exit interviews, as he appeared to specific appropriate regret solely within the third.

The testimony, earlier than Judge Mary Lou Villar, was performed by lawyer’s Chad Hummel and Bart Dalton in Polanski’s behalf, and by deputy David Walgren for the District Attorney’s office. Sparring between the 2 sides gave a preview of what a Polanski trial may appear like—whereas Gunson, although cooperative, typically struggled to recall essential particulars, and needed to be prompted with notes and paperwork that had gathered through the years.

One oddity described by Gunson—although he by no means absolutely understood it—was an encounter with a former prosecutor who requested him, whereas the case was present, to assist him get appointed as Polanski’s protection lawyer. The ex-prosecutor, mentioned Gunson, was supposedly near Rittenband. But he might by no means perceive why he imagined {that a} prosecutor might affect the selection of a protection legal professional.

In one other go-round, Gunson testified that two prosecutors who initially labored on the case had been found to have photographed themselves holding Jack Nicholson’s Oscars whereas executing a search warrant on the actor’s home, however did not ship anticipated photograph proof, supposedly as a result of they ran out of movie.

Gunson testified at size about failed efforts through the years to resolve the case by letting the fugitive Polanski return to the United States beneath a pre-cut plea deal that will not contain jail time. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, he famous, has persistently mentioned Polanski should finish his fugitive standing earlier than a deal might be reached, although it briefly regarded like a decision may happen within the Nineteen Nineties.

Gunson, who served as a prosecutor for 34 years earlier than retiring in 2002, has survived the health points that triggered the conditional testimony.

 

 

Back to top button