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October 22, 2009 3:47 PM

Roman Polanski, Public Integrity and a Looming Extradition

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE: Dec. 15, 10:05 a.m. Jeffrey Toobin has this excellent story on the history of the Polanski case in the current issue of The New Yorker.

The Los Angeles Times reports that e-mail disclosed by the district attorney's office in Los Angeles show that Roman Polanski will likely be extradited to the U.S. to face charges that he had sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1978.

Polanski, 76, has been held in a Swiss jail since September 26 when he was arrested in Zurich while attending a film festival. He's hired litigation bigwig Reid Weingarten of Steptoe & Johnson--a close of friend of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr.--to fight extradition.

One bit of irony: a Justice Department lawyer serving as an intermediary between Los Angeles prosecutors and Swiss authorities is Nicholas Marsh, a former member of the team that prosecuted Sen. Ted Stevens. (Hat Tip: Main Justice.)

As one of the "Stevens Six," Marsh and five federal prosecutors are the subject of a criminal contempt investigation. A jury verdict against Stevens for failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in freebies from oilfield services companies on Senate ethics forms was dismissed in April because prosecutors failed to turn over key evidence to his defense lawyers at Williams & Connolly.

On Wednesday the head of the Justice Department's public integrity section that handled the Stevens case stepped down. Sibling publication The Blog of Legal Times reports that William Welch II will remain a federal prosecutor in his native Massachusetts, but will no longer work at Main Justice. (Zuckerman Spaeder's William Taylor III is representing Welch and Patton Boggs' Robert Luskin is advising Marsh in the contempt inquiry--with the government picking up the legal tab.)

Marsh and Edward Sullivan, another lawyer who worked on the Stevens case, were transferred out of the public integrity division to the international affairs unit in June. At international affairs, Marsh has been handling extradition talks with Swiss officials, according to the e-mails released to the L.A. Times.

One of Polanski's lawyers, Georges Kiejman from Kiejman & Marembert in Paris, told The New York Times on Wednesday that Polanski might choose to return to the U.S. himself to face the charges. French lawyer Herve Temime also represents Polanski.

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