Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Man Bites Dog: Victim Seeks Dismissal of Statutory Rape Charges Against Director Roman Polanski. Should It Matter?

The alleged victim in the Roman Polanski Statutory Rape case, joins with Polanski in seeking dismissal of the charges against him. Filing a separate affidavit, the victim accuses the former Judge and Prosecutor in her case of failures and misdeeds. She also claims that the prosecutors in the case now are seeking to cover up those misdeeds and that their failures are causing her unnecessary grief and embarrassment.

Ms. Geimer now 45 years old and a mother herself wants the case dismissed. Though not denying the facts behind the allegations, she feels that too much time has passed and that she has moved on in her life. She asserts that Prosecutors, who earlier this month used Grand Jury excerpts that gave vivid detail to the media about the accusations leveled at the Oscar winning director, are trudging the whole thing up to protect their office's good name at her expense.

Polanski was allegedly at the home of actor Jack Nicholson when he attacked the girl who was there alone to meet the famed director. Polanski lost his wife Sharon Tate a young actress and their yet to be born child in the Manson Murder spree.

Geimer's petition is an interesting one. Under her theory, as a victim she should have a say as to how the prosecution is handled and what should happen to the outcome of the case. This is essentially giving her veto power over the prosecutors office.

Nonetheless, Prosecutors and victim's rights advocates have been leading the charge to give victims more say in sentencing and other matters that, in the not so distant past have been the sole discretion of judges and lawyers. This would be fair turnaround. Often victims of crimes want to drop charges but are told that since they are not the prosecutor they have no say in what or how a case is handled. In cases where there are mandatory minimums, such as in many statutory rape situations, the victim's will is defeated.

If that were to happen in cases where a judge refused to go along with the victim, prosecutors rally to the victim's side and decry the jurist and often blame defense counsel as well. It feels like fair game to burn the prosecution at its own game. In fact, in Polanski's case it is even more than fair as the prosecutor went so far as to have ex-parte conversations with the court and it seems made a fair sentence for Polansky impossible. Griemer has a case it seems where the malfeasense of Prosecutors and the court now causes her more pain and suffering after the fact.

I suppose that I should look at this as a positive effect of Victim's rights. I don't. I see it as a furthering weakening of the criminal justice system and a further step away from what we should be properly doing, that is, establishing guilt and if there is guilt finding an appropriate sentence that will deter further misbehavior by the accused and return that person to society as soon as correction and rehabilitation has been established. It has nothing to do with victims. It isn't about their feelings or lack thereof. It isn't about vengence or hearing the victim's voice.
I am not against those things in the proper forum (ie a parole hearing or civil proceeding) I am against it when it comes to the job or the elected official and when it gets in the way of the goals of the system.

Whether Polansky should be allowed to attack his conviction while remaining in France is not my issue. Whether his conviction or plea should be allowed to be withdrawn is not my care now. Whether that decision should be left up to his victim, anymore than his sentence should be is the issue. I do not feel that it she has any say in this matter. It is for the District Attorney to decide how to enforce the laws of his state. I just think that it also has to be a two way street. If a victim cannot help an accused by being heard on her decision to prosecute, neither should she be able to assert her will on other issues in the criminal prosecurtion of the case in which she is not a party, but is a witness.

What are your thoughts on the role of victims in the Criminal Justice System? Let me know in the comments or by send them to me via Twitter
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