The film stars Gerard Butler (“Lara Croft: Cradle of Life”, “Reign of Fire”, “Gamer” and “300”) as Clyde Shelton, a fringe worker for the CIA and whose wife and daughter are brutally murdered by two men. Enter Jamie Foxx (“The Kingdom”, “Miami Vice”, “Collateral” and “Ray”) as Nick Rice, at the beginning of the film and assistant district attorney for Philadelphia assigned to prosecute the killers of Shelton’s family. In the end, Nick is forced to take a plea on the case in which the actual killer walks on a lighter sentence as the other man involved in the Shelton case, is sent to Death Row. As the other man leaves for a five year prison sentence, Clyde watches as Rice is approached and it looks as if he’s in league with the real killer. Some years later Clyde puts together a plan to make all those who allowed the killer of his wife and daughter to get away with it. That plan Clyde puts into motion is as a law abiding citizen to make those pay who allowed the ‘deal’ with the devil as it were. The twist on this story is that Clyde only puts those in those positions of power in his line of fire. Everyone from Rice to the mayor (Viola Davis) are targets as far as Clyde Shelton is concerned due to their complicity in the system. Thus lays out the basic plot of the film. Shelton begins to get revenge on those he holds responsible for the miscarriage of justice that allowed the killer of his wife and child walk.
What does this have to do with the price of tea in the Polanski case? Plenty.
It seems as though it’s perfectly fine for those condemning Polanski and his decision to run back in 1978 to deride his decision, then to condemn the one responsible for that decision Polanski made. Polanski played by the rules as far as his case was concerned. As the Marina Zenovich documentary ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED & DESIRES succinctly summed up, there were gross incidents of judicial misconduct on behalf of the presiding judge, Laurence J. Rittenband. Most of which the film documented, however, there is a greater picture here. While Roman Polanski submitted himself to every hoop Rittenband presented to Polanski to jump through, Rittenband himself remained above that law he swore to uphold.
Going back to that epiotme of uprightness, some of the posters on the many boards I’ve posted, perused or lurked on, have stated that the issue here isn’t what Rittenband did, but what Polanski did. Granted, had Polanski ‘kept it in his pants’, a valid argument at any time if indeed there was a rape for Polanski to have been guilty of, the ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’ was allowed to propigate by Rittenband’s actions, but Vannatter’s actions and by the system itself. One cannot expect to have the air of propriety without a system that cannot be used by those chosen to uphold that law, to then turn around and crap on it. What am I talking about? Simply this. Polanski complied with all that was asked of him. Now what was asked of him? Here is what he did:
- When ordered to return from Germany after the Oktoberfest photo that was shown Rittenband by David Welles, Roman Polanski returned as he was required to do by law.
- When ordered to Chino for the psychiatric report, a thing that was not required under the law at the time, Polanski reported.
- When the psychiatric and probation reports were completed, there was no need to hold him any further and it was the probation officer who ordered him released as per the fact that no psyche report takes the full 90 days to complete.
- When ordered into court, Polanski presented himself. On those off days when it was only pro forma details for the lawyers, he did not have to report…as per the law.
- Even when he was ordered to report to read from Rittenband’s prepared script, Roman Polanski still reported.
Those are the facts. Now whether it was required of Polanski to submit himself to harm other than what was required under the statute and Rittenband’s continued illegal conduct, it wasn’t up to Polanski to do so. Rittenband was the one who was conducting his court in an illegal fashion. Now the next statement I’ll likely get is: “OKay, if Polanski was feeling he was being ill-treated, why didn’t he stay and fight it?” Legitimate question, certainly, but not the reality Polanski was living with. He’d submitted himself to all that Rittenband demanded, but Rittenband was still renegging on the plea deal. And for those who’d say that it doesn’t matter, a judge is allowed to reneg all he wants. I say, no a judge is not. If the deal hammered out by both sides and in this case, on behalf of the so-called ‘victim’ and her lawyer and her father, also a lawyer who was the one who came up with the deal to begin with, all Rittenband had to do was to sign off on it…unless he felt that there was some pressure put on the ‘victim’. In that case and only that case, is the judge allowed to question the deal. In this case, and this case alone, no one wanted jail or prison time for Polanski. No one. Not even Geimer or her mother or father. What did Rittenband consider this as well as the court ordered reports from the probation office as well as the psychiatric reports? He considered it a whitewash. A whitewash only because it didn’t comport with his belief of who he thought Polanski was. And that is not his right by law. He can think whatever he wants about Polanski’s conduct or his life, the point here is that it means nothing in terms of applying the law. And what Rittenband did was illegal.
Going back to that assumption that Polanski had to lay himself at the feet of the corrupt judge to accept his ‘punishment’, no noe has to submit themselves to something that is over and above what the statute itself states. Polanski took the only out he felt he could to escape Rittenband’s machinations, and that was to flee to France. And if Rittenband wanted to make sure Polanski didn’t have that ability to run, he should have confiscated Polanski’s passport, which Rittenband didn’t do. So is it Polanski’s fault that Ritteband failed to do so? No. Should Polanski have given that up when he returned from Germany? No. It wasn’t required by law for him to do so. So this returns me again to what Polanski did do in order to comply with what the court ordered. And what he did do was comply at all turns. The only time he didn’t was when he felt he was being treated unfairly. If he hadn’t run, which Rittenband wanted Polanski to self-deport himself anyway…something Rittenband had no legal right to demand, Polanski did what Rittenband wanted. He left the United States.
So now where onto the law abiding citizen part. LIke Clyde in the film, he did what was required of him by law to do. He believed that the law would do what it was designed to do and to punish those responsible for the deaths of his wife and child. Even if it meant that Nick would loose his case for whatever reason, at least according to Clyde, Nick would have tried. Which would have been all Clyde would have asked of Nick. To try. What does this have to do with Polanski? Simple. It could try to address this fairly and swiftly for all involved. But somehow like Judge Laurence Rittenband before him, Steve Cooley and Peter Espinoza feel that they don’t have to follow the law. They feel that it is their word and nothing more. I asked in a previous post, what is Steve Cooley afraid of. I’ll ask again, if there is nothing to hide, why continue to keep Roger Gunson’s deposition under seal? What is to be gained by it? Gunson gave this deposition to the Polanski side to help him nad them in understanding what actually happened with Rittenband, and this comported precisely with what Douglas Dalton has always contended. There’s no mystery here. And for Polanski to quit his fight from Switzerland with so much still in question as per the original procedings, then Swiss law would be in breach of its own Geneva Convention about turning prisoners over to a system that will not comport with that law.
Like Clyde Shelton, Roman Polanski expected to be treated like any other citzen of the United States. Be given equal treatment and not centred out for his celebrity, which despite what those anti-Polanskites seem to think, worked against him. It didn’t help him. It didn’t protect him. Rittenband on the other hand gained off of Polanski’s fame and then continued to treat him above and beyond what the law required. That is not prosecution, it is persecution. The fact that Rittenband didn’t pay for his treatment of Polanski is a shame. He should have been pulled from the bench and taken to task for his misconduct that went over the line of justice. And yeah, yeah, yeah…I’ve heard that one again about Polanski keeping it his pants. But he didn’t. In the end, he expected to be treated fairly and without prejudice. Despite what Polanski did or didn’t do, whether the said double anal rape occurred according to the evidence collected and tested…oh wait, failed to be tested, the facts still remain the Californai legal system still refuses to play by the rules. Not surprising since Steve Cooley hasn’t seen fit to prosecute those involved in decades old abuses by the California Archdiocese of the Catholic Church given they’re contributing to his run for Attorney General of the State of Californai. Not surprising at all.
Oh, I should also mention that just recently, The Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger has reduced civil servant’s paychecks to minimum wage. Considering California is facing a budget shortfall by winter, the fact that Cooley is wasting funds on this case to ‘get Polanski back’ is ridiculous. Espinoza, have the guts to sentence Polanski in absentia and have this over and done with. You’ll look like the bigger man for it. Instead, you just continue to look like the Rittenband abstructionist you are. Some legacy.