An appeals court on Monday rejected a bid by filmmaker Roman Polanski's attorneys to disqualify all Los Angeles Superior Court judges from considering a request to dismiss a rape case against the fugitive film director.
A three-judge panel of the California 2nd District Court of Appeal also lifted a stay on all proceedings in the 31-year-old case, sending the case back to Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza.
The court will schedule another hearing to decide whether Polanski has be to present for the court to hear his motion to dismiss a charge that he raped a 13-year-old girl. Superior Court spokesman Allan Parachini said the court will set a hearing date on Tuesday.
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Polanski's attorney, Chad Hummel, had argued that the entire Los Angeles Superior Court bench is biased against the director because a court spokesman commented to news media that Polanski was required to be present for his hearing. He said this showed that the court had prejudged the case. A message left with Hummel on Monday night was not immediately returned.
Prosecutors countered that the claim was "patently frivolous" and based on "mere conclusions with no factual basis."
Polanski, 75, pleaded guilty to having sex with the girl in Los Angeles in 1978 but fled to France before he could be sentenced. He filed papers in December asking that the case be thrown out because of what his attorneys described as egregious prosecutorial and judicial misconduct surrounding his sentencing.
The new round of legal motions in the long dormant case was prompted by the release of an HBO documentary, "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired." Polanksi's attorneys filed a dismissal motion based on new information revealed in the documentary about actions of the now deceased trial judge. Hummel claimed the communications between the judge and prosecutor were clear misconduct and violated Polanski's constitutional rights.
The girl who was sexually violated, now a 45-year-old woman, has filed an affidavit supporting dismissal of the case.
Polanski lives in exile in France and received a directing Oscar in absentia for 2002's "The Pianist." He has also directed such classic films as "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby."
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