LA judge in Polanski case could unseal prosecutor's testimony

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A court is set to hear arguments on whether transcripts should be unsealed that detail alleged misconduct in the decades-old sex case against Roman Polanski.

In Monday's hearing, attorneys for the Oscar-winning director will seek access to the documents that include testimony by former prosecutor Roger Gunson who wanted the trial judge to be disqualified because of purported misconduct. Prosecutors are opposing the release of the transcripts.

Los Angeles authorities want Polanski returned to face sentencing on a charge he had unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Polanski was arrested seven months ago and is under house arrest in Switzerland.

Polanski fled the United States in 1978 on the eve of sentencing.

Polanski's attorneys said they need to send the testimony of retired Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson to Swiss authorities who are considering whether to extradite the director to the U.S.

The motion said the transcripts will prove the extradition request is based on false and incomplete statements by the Los Angeles district attorney's office.

Gunson testified earlier this year that in 1977 he tried to challenge now-deceased Superior Court Judge Lawrence Rittenband but his supervisors prevented him from filing it after they consulted with the judge, according to court documents from Polanski's attorneys.

Gunson wanted Rittenband disqualified from the case because of misconduct, the filings state.

The testimony was taken in case Gunson is unavailable to testify at a later hearing.

Polanski was arrested in September as he arrived in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award at a film festival. He released his first public comments on the case last weekend, saying efforts to return him to Los Angeles were meant largely to serve him "on a platter to the media."

Polanski was accused in 1977 of plying a 13-year-old girl with champagne and part of a sedative pill then raping her at Jack Nicholson's house. He was indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molesting and sodomy. He later pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse.

What happened after that is the subject of the legal dispute. The defense says the now deceased judge, Laurence J. Rittenband, had agreed in meetings with attorneys to sentence Polanski to a 90-day diagnostic study and nothing more.

But the judge later changed his mind and summoned Polanski for further sentencing at which time he fled to his native France, attorneys said. He has been a fugitive ever since.