Oscar Scandals: Roman Polanski Challenges Expulsion from Membership in Academy

Roman Polanski Expulsion from Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Roman Polanski - Getty - H 2019

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Roman Polanski won’t be appearing at Los Angeles Superior Court today. But the film director is still primed for a big loss in a court battle over his expulsion two years ago from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Polanski is claiming that the Academy had failed to give him a fair opportunity to be heard when he was booted alongside Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein for alleged misconduct.

The Oscar winning director (The Pianist) filed petition for writ of administrative mandamus, asking a Los Angeles judge to force the Academy to reinstate him as a member in good standing. The move amounted to Polanski’s latest effort to re-litigate the circumstances that caused him to flee the United States decades ago. In the 1970s, Polanksi pled guilty to having sexual intercourse with a teen girl and then left for France upon concern that the judge who was handling his case was about to sentence him to 50 years in prison instead of 90 days of psychiatric evaluation, which he says he was promised.  Ever since, Polanski has pushed the notion that he was the victim of a corrupt process.

Polanski’s writ petition is scheduled to be heard at a hearing today, but in advance, L.A. Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel has issued a detailed tentative order that denies his request.

According to Strobel’s review of written materials, Polanski was given notice that his criminal conviction and fugitive status were reasons for expulsion. What’s more, the judge says the film director also got a chance to respond.

“Here, Petitioner was given the opportunity to present any evidence he deemed relevant to the Board’s consideration ‘of whether [he] should or should not remain a member of the Academy’ in light of his criminal conviction and fugitive status,” states the tentative. “Petitioner submitted more than 450 pages of documentary materials to the Board, including a 10-page brief by counsel and 23 exhibits.  Petitioner also submitted a documentary DVD entitled Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired and a video statement of Petitioner to the Board… All of these materials were submitted to the Board prior to its deliberation at the December 11, 2018, and January 26, 2019, meetings.”

The judge shrugs off the contention that there wasn’t proof that board members accessed the materials as well as Polanski’s argument he should be able to call and cross-examine witnesses — and adds that the conviction and fugitive status were undisputed and sufficient cause for expulsion. The tentative order also concludes that despite arguments that the expulsion vote was tainted by bias, it complied with California’s common law right of fair procedure.