we all love rights of the accused until it’s someone we really don’t like



Freddie deBoer used to blog at lhote.blogspot.com, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

Related Post Roulette

30 Responses

  1. Avatar Steven Donegal says:

    I’m all for due process, but it’s hard for me to see in this instance how due process has been denied. He plead guilty, then fled prior to sentencing. He wanted to have the plea set aside, but didn’t show for the hearing. It seems that before he complains about not getting due process, he needs to actually get involved in the process.Report

  2. Three words.

    He plead guilty.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      The guilty plea is where I get hung up as well.

      Having admitted to having done it, the case now feels like “a rich guy with connections skipped town and successfully avoided the consequences for doing what he did.”

      Had he spent the last 30 years screaming up and down about how he hadn’t done it, he was framed, etc, maybe that would have put a splinter of doubt in my mind (Mumia!). As it is… it strikes me that this isn’t a case of justice twisted in order for the courts to get a high-profile scalp followed by the scalp running away.

      It doesn’t even strike me as similar to the OJ trial where the prosecution did its best to frame a guilty man.Report

  3. Avatar Alex Knapp says:


    The judicial improprities alleged here have nothing whatsoever to do with Polanski’s guilt, but rather the sentencing procedure–that is, whether the judge could change a sentence that was part of Polanski’s plea deal. There was no conspiracy for wrongful conviction or anything like that.

    Polanski could have chosen to hire lawyers to represent him in an appeal had the judge ultimately thrown the book at him. Using the evidence of impropriety, he may have succeeded. Instead, he chose to skip town. In this case, it’s Polanski himself who refuses to avail of due process. Not the judicial system.

    Bear in mind that Polanski did not only plead guilty of criminal charges, but personally admitted to raping the victim in the civil settlement, as well.

    The fact that Polanski drugged a 13-year old girl and raped her despite her protests is not something that Polanski disputes. What he disputes is the punishment for the crime.Report

  4. Avatar Jonathan says:

    “whether Polanski”s previous guilty plea means that he has already been afforded due process is a question for legal minds greater than mine, and if it’s determined that he can be punished in a way that is consistent with a full and fair application of due process, I’ll weep no tears for Mr. Polanski.”

    The question now, the only possible question, is only whether he originally received due process. He has been punished – he has been evading it until now. This is not a case of re-trial for the original crime. If there is any sort of hearing, it will be on whether he: 1. Admitted guilt; 2. Was given an opportunity to appeal (if such a thing would be possible) upon the admission itself; 3. Was sentenced appropriately; 4. Fled the country prior to serving his time.

    This whole matter is a question of the law. I agree that rights of those accused of a crime must be respected, but here, Mr. Polanski is no longer simply “accused.”Report

  5. Avatar Ryan says:

    “Incidentally, you’ll find that people are again and again emphasizing that it was anal rape. ”

    There is certainly more at work here than simply emotionalizing the events. Or, rather, there’s a reason this works particularly well for emotionalizing the events. We think of anal rape as worse than vaginal rape, and it has a lot to do with how we feel about those two things when they’re done consensually. And the people who do them.Report

  6. Avatar Joe Carter says:


    Since you agree that Polanski is guilty—as he admitted—perhaps you should change your post title to “we all love rights of the guilty until it’s someone we really don’t like.” Of course, I’m not sure it’d be as apt then since the question is not really about his rights (which have not been violated in any way) or his guilt (since that has been clearly established). Indeed, I’m not sure what the point would be exactly since I doubt you are one of those who believes that if you are (a) famous and (b) can avoid the law for 30 years you get a free “Get out of jail for raping a child” pass.Report

    • Avatar Freddie says:

      That’s well taken, Joe, although I would say that his rights certainly were violated by the judge and prosecutor discussing the case outside of the trial process. And of course I don’t believe either a) or b).Report

  7. Avatar Ken says:

    Here’s the thing, Freddie: you are reacting to the “just hang him” sentiment that many people express. It is right and fit that you should do so. But many critics — like Wyman — are simply not in the “just hang him” crowd. Rather, they are criticizing the pro-Polanski-propaganda crowd embodied in the “Wanted and Desired” flick — people who minimize what he did and ultimately act as apologists for rape.

    I think you are talking past each other.Report

    • Avatar adolphus says:

      I agree 100%. I will continue to bring up the fact that he raped a child, much like Kate Harding did in Salon, because too many people want to gloss over that fact. Polanski is already garnering a host of defenders from film festival attendees wearing “Free Roman” buttons to Whoopi Goldberg saying the girl wasn’t “raped-raped” on the view. His defenders bring up everything from his parents dying in the Holocaust, to his wife dying at the hands of the Manson family, to his skill at movie making, to his advanced age, and to a host of other things. Yes, but he RAPED A CHILD! He may be able to garner a ton of sympathy from any number of people if they are allowed to forget HE RAPED A CHILD, so I will do my wee tiny bit in my small corner of the world to make sure people who think that the patina of celebrity and artistic skill absolves people from paying for their crimes.

      Yes, he is due all the due process any other citizen would get. He will likely get more because he can afford it. But before you want to make excuses to me about why he should not be dragged back to the US to answer for his crimes (and get all the due process his money can buy him) I will remind you that he raped a child.Report

  8. Avatar Andy Smith says:

    The most complicating factor in this case IMO is the victim’s desire not to have this case, this period of her life, resurrected. If she wanted Polanski punished, if she had been pleading with authorities all these years to bring him to justice, it would be a no-brainer, wouldn’t it? But she doesn’t want him punished, she says she put the incident behind her a long time ago (helped, no doubt, by a very lucrative civil settlement). So the question is, which is more important? That we take a violation of the law seriously, or that we accede to the wishes of the victim?
    Someone in another blog put it very well when he said our legal system does not exist for the sake of the victims, important as that may be, but for the sake of justice. From the victim’s point of view, it may not be fair to bring this up now, she has nothing to gain by anything done to Polanski. But a principle is at stake.Report

  9. I’m pretty interested to hear what the rest of Hollywood says about this one.Report

  10. Avatar EngineerScotty says:

    Perhaps a better title for this post ought to be, “we all like to see wrongdoers punished, unless it is someone we DO like”.

    Most defenders of Polanski who have gone on the record have not claimed that he was unfairly treated by the justice system, or that he didn’t do the deed which he plead guilty to, or that what he didn’t wasn’t really all that bad.

    Instead, Polanski’s defender seem to focus on the fact that he’s a brilliant filmmaker, and if pressed, that he has suffered enough (the murder of his wife)–it would be a shame and a waste to see such talent rot in jail.

    Which strikes me as little different than a phenomenon that is readily observed within the US–wherein upper-class white kids that screw up bigtime often get slaps on the wrist, whereas poor minority kids who commit a similar offense (and have a similar history with law enforcement) can frequently expect to get the book thrown at them. In the former case, there’s a belief that the kid in question has a Lot Of Potential, it’s better not to ruin his life with a lengthy prison sentence–wherein the latter case, the kid is frequently viewed as disposable (and likely to end up in jail for something else anyway).

    While I have no special enmity for Polanski (compared to others who commit similar offenses), the whole principle of the blindness of justice demands that he be held to some account by the law. Is there any doubt that if he weren’t a rich film director, he would have served a lengthy prison term, and might well still be there today?Report