Film Academy Says Roman Polanski Already Got "Fair" Opportunity to Challenge Expulsion

The Oscars group also challenges the famed director's right to go to court as a fugitive.
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Roman Polanski

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that runs the Oscars, has responded in court to Roman Polanski's lawsuit challenging his expulsion.

Polanski filed suit in April with the contention that the Academy violated its policies by voting him out. In a petition for writ of administrative mandamus, the Rosemary's Baby director acknowledged that the Academy let him petition for reconsideration after it expelled him, Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby over conduct, but Polanski added that the Academy failed to give him an opportunity to be heard on the matter.

The Academy responds that after Polanski complained about not being given a fair hearing, he was invited to submit any written information relevant to the consideration of whether he should or should not remain a member.

Polanski "presented a ten page letter from his lawyer advocating his position, over four hundred pages of supporting documents, a copy of a documentary titled Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, an email from his counsel, and a recorded video statement by Petitioner addressing the Board," writes the Academy's attorney John Quinn. "All of these materials were presented to the Board of Governors, who voted on January 26, 2019 to uphold Petitioner’s expulsion by a more than two-thirds supermajority."

The Academy characterizes this process as "fair and reasonable."

Polanski fled the country after pleading guilty to having sexual intercourse with a teen girl in the 1970s. The filmmaker claims he left the country because the judge who was handling his case decades ago promised him he would only serve 90 days of psychiatric evaluation, but instead was going to sentence him to 50 years in prison. Since fleeing for France, Polanski has not returned.

Interestingly, the first affirmative defense being raised by the Academy is the doctrine of fugitive disentitlement.

That's a doctrine that is most commonly applied in the criminal context. It stands for the proposition that those who won't surrender themselves can not use the resources of the court. This often means that fugitives can't challenge their prosecutions, but it has also been used in civil actions, most typically ones where the government seizes a defendant's property in forfeiture actions.

This time, the Academy hopes it means that Polanski has no right to go to a Los Angeles Superior Court with a petition aimed at forcing a private organization to uphold its policies.