This week, a judge ruled against Roman Polanski’s request for his reinstatement to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The organization behind the Oscars ousted the film director in May 2018. Polanski has been a fugitive from the United States since 1978, when he fled the country after pleading guilty to child rape.
Denying His Request
In April of 2019, Polanski, who now lives in France, sued the Academy. He alleged that it had exiled him without warning or due process. But Judge Mary Stobel ruled that although Polanski had not been given much notice, it handled the case fairly. In fact, in an effort to be completely just, the Academy had gone further. It had offered Polanski a hearing following the initial announcement of his ejection.
Judge Strobel said in her conclusion:
“Board had cause to expel Petitioner. While the Board could have found the circumstances surrounding Petitioner’s continued fugitive status, including his allegations of serious judicial and prosecutorial misconduct, mitigated the need for expulsion, the Board’s decision is supported by the evidence, was not arbitrary or capricious, and was not an abuse of discretion.”
Why Sue in the First Place?
A question for many is why a fugitive, who committed a heinous crime, would even take the time to sue. There’s little doubt the Academy was justified in kicking him out. Not only did Polanski commit an awful crime, he’s had little to do with Hollywood for nearly 40 years.
But Harland Braun, Polanksi’s attorney, confirms that the former filmmaker has a more personal reason for suing. He doesn’t want to get back into the club. “It means nothing to him,” Braun said. “It’s the idea he’s being thrown out without any due process.”
In the end, the lawsuit was based on principle. An irony considering the laws that Polanski himself has broken and continues to break.
About Polanski’s loss, the Academy’s attorney Kristen Bird question whether the expulsion wasn’t “long overdue.”