Monday, 28 September 2009

The People versus Roman Polanski

I wonder what LA's district attorney Steve Cooley thinks he's up to with the renewed pursuit of Roman Polanski; and I suppose we'll find out soon enough. Perhaps he thinks he's reminding us that justice never sleeps, even when, as in this decades-old case, the crime no longer has a plaintiff, the victim Samantha Geimer having moved on with her life. Perhaps, too, Cooley, a reputedly resolute and conservative ex-policeman, wants the world to know that Los Angeles is not merely a bolthole of liberal Hollywood types who want their excesses and turpitudes forever excused without retribution.
Cooley is reported by the Telegraph as saying, '[Polanski's] been trying to get it resolved on his terms but it's going to on the terms of the Los Angeles County justice system. Some form of justice will finally be done... He received a very, very, very lenient sentence back then which would never be achievable under today's laws." So what now? He wants Polanski to be sentenced anew with the power of hindsight, befitting the manners and mores of the 2000s rather than the 1970s?
Well, of course I can't know the lawman's mind, but I guess he feels the 76-year-old filmmaker has certainly made his own bed in that respect. Does he feel that the 42 days Polanski spent in Chino jail back in 1977, locked up alongside 'incredible murderers' (as the director once recalled to Martin Amis), cannot stand as adequate penal servitude for the crime? That the role played in Polanski's decision back then to skip bail by the capricious and dishonourable Judge Rittenband can be, essentially, overlooked? That, since the law and not the victim determines what punishment fits the crime, Samantha Geimer's opinions are immaterial? Again, on all counts, we shall see.
The Telegraph also reports that Cooley "is facing questions in California over the cost of pursuing Polanski when the state is having to release 40,000 inmates because of prison overcrowding." But I doubt that will perturb DA Cooley for one moment if, as it seems, he's a man who believes the sword of truth may indeed rust in its scabbard for however long it takes to get the blade out and the lopping done proper.
My own second-rate opinion, as you may have guessed, is that this is all a colossal waste of time and endeavour over a wrongdoing that was admitted to and paid for long ago.
The famous image of Polanski above is by and (c) Harry Benson.