Two of the lawyers featured prominently in the HBO documentary on Roman Polanski that debuted this week have issued a statement disputing the Superior Court's allegation that the film was wrong about a 1997 offer to resolve the case. Doug Dalton was Polanski's attorney when the director was jailed for having sex with a minor; after his temporary release, Polanski fled the country in advance of a prison term. Roger Gunson was the prosecutor who didn't think Polanski deserved time. Both said in the documentary that, first, Judge Lawrence Rittenband violated judicial ethics in the case, and that Judge Larry Paul Fidler later offered to resolve the case but demanded that TV's be allowed in the court. The Superior Court statement on Monday denied on behalf of Fidler that there was such a demand. Now this:
JOINT STATEMENT OF DOUGLAS DALTON AND ROGER GUNSON:
In light of Monday's statement by the Superior Court of Los Angeles and a Tuesday Los Angeles Times article about the documentary film Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, former Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson and Attorney Douglas Dalton issue the following statement to correct the court's erroneous report:
In 1997, Douglas Dalton, attorney for Roman Polanski, and Roger Gunson, prosecutor on the Polanski case, met with Judge Larry Paul Fidler in his chambers to discuss the Polanski case. Mr. Gunson and Mr. Dalton advised Judge Fidler of Judge Rittenband's conduct in handling the case that is accurately captured in the documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.
At the meeting, Judge Fidler advised Mr. Dalton that if Mr. Polanski returned to Los Angeles, that he, Judge Fidler, would allow Mr. Polanski to be booked and immediately released on bail, require Mr. Polanski to meet with the probation department, order a probation report, conduct a hearing, and terminate probation without Mr. Polanski having to serve any additional time in custody. That there was a deal worked out between Judge Fidler and Mr. Dalton was reported in the New York Daily News as early as October 1, 1997.
One of the issues raised by Mr. Dalton during the meeting was the question of media coverage. All understood that any proceedings would be open to the public as required by law. During the meeting, Mr. Dalton pressed Judge Fidler for a resolution of the case that would allow for minimal news media. Mr. Dalton recalled that Judge Fidler would require television coverage at the proposed hearing due to the controversy. Mr. Gunson recalls television coverage discussed at the meeting. Mr. Dalton told documentary director Marina Zenovich of this requirement.
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.