December 22, 2009
Posted: 01:16 PM ET
A state appellate court Monday rejected Roman Polanski's bid to have his 1977 child-sex prosecution dismissed but outlined a way that could end the long-running case without Polanski serving more time behind bars or returning to the American justice system he fled three decades ago.
In a 3-0 ruling, the 2nd District Court of Appeal suggested that Polanski ask to be sentenced in absentia for the statutory rape he admitted committing 32 years ago.
According to the three-justice panel, the sentencing hearing held in his absence would provide a forum for a Los Angeles County judge to evaluate Polanski's allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct in the original handling of the case.
If the evidence is persuasive, the justices wrote, "we are confident that the trial court could fashion a legal sentence that results in no further incarceration for Polanski."
The opinion made clear that the justices were troubled by the misconduct allegations, enough so that they took the unusual step of injecting themselves into the details of a specific case.
"We exhort all participants in this extended drama to place the integrity of the criminal justice system above the desire to punish any one individual, whether for his offense or for his flight," the justices wrote.
The move surprised legal experts.
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