Roman Polanski’s bid to get back into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was denied this Tuesday after a Los Angeles judge upheld his initial expulsion from the organization in 2018.
Polanski sued the Academy in 2019 after his expulsion, seeking reinstatement on the grounds that his expulsion was “improper and invalid.” His lawsuit also claimed that he wasn’t notified ahead of time of the move to expel; which the judge didn’t think was fully necessary given the circumstances.
Judge Mary Strobel also stated that the Academy board already corrected the failing of notifying Polanski of his expulsion by giving him a fair hearing before the decision was fully finalized. In her final ruling she said the board had plenty of cause to expel Polanski.
“While the Board could have found the circumstances surrounding Petitioner’s continued fugitive status, the Board’s decision is supported by the evidence, was not arbitrary or capricious, and was not an abuse of discretion.”
The Academy spoke with the media recently about this decision, asserting that they were “pleased the court confirmed the Academy’s procedures were fair and reasonable.” Polanski’s attorney, Harland Braun, said that they wouldn’t be pursuing an appeal, as it would be a waste of time and money.
Braun claims that all the judges in Los Angeles stick together and “cover each other’s misconduct,” and “The Academy membership is actually worthless,” despite his clients valiant efforts to reclaim that position.
Polanski was kicked out of the Academy back in 2018 alongside comedian Bill Cosby. At the time, Cosby had just been convicted and imprisoned on charges of sexual assault. Polanski was on the board for over fifty years before his expulsion; despite a majority of that time being spent as a well-known fugitive from California justice.
In 1978, Polanski fled the country after pleading guilty to the rape of a 13-year-old girl. Apparently at the time, Polanski learned that the judge in his case had planned to sentence him to a long prison sentence instead of abiding by a negotiated plea bargain, prompting him to flee. After that he lived in France, Switzerland, or Poland, successfully avoiding California authorities attempts to extradite him.
He’s been unable to return to the United States, despite winning an Oscar for best director in 2003 for “The Pianist,” and being nominated for the same category in 1981 for “Tess”.
Braun has represented Polanski throughout the past 42 years through all of the legal issues. The pair are still attempting to get the Los Angeles District Attorney to drop its case and extradite Polanski from serving the remaining few months on his sentence in the US, as well as paying a large fee for fleeing in the first place; so far they’ve been unsuccessful.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.