Notable Victories Detail Banner
All Notable Victories

September 2020: Firm Wins Decision That Motion Picture Academy Properly Expelled Roman Polanski

September 2020

Quinn Emanuel obtained a victory for longtime client, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, concerning the Academy’s expulsion of Roman Polanski from its membership.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the Academy—like other institutions—undertook a review of its policies, practices, and membership to ensure that each reflects the Academy’s values.  It developed standards of conduct and optional procedures for bringing and hearing complaints against members, with the full Board of Governors expressly retaining its authority to act on any member’s status for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct.

In May of 2018, the Board of Governors voted to expel Roman Polanski from its membership in light of his sexual crime with a minor and subsequent decades-long fugitive status.  It did so at a normally organized meeting of its Board of Governors and with a supermajority voting in favor of expulsion, as required by its bylaws.  Mr. Polanski, nevertheless, complained he had not been afforded all the process he was due to argue his conviction and flight did not justify expulsion.

In response, the Academy afforded Mr. Polanski the opportunity to present any and all materials he deemed relevant for the Board of Governors’ review before a reconsideration vote on Mr. Polanski’s expulsion.  Mr. Polanski provided hundreds of pages of materials as well as a written argument from his attorney, and presented himself to the Board of Governors via a prerecorded video.  The Board again voted to expel Mr. Polanski, and Mr. Polanski sued, claiming he still had not been afforded a fair process.

Quinn Emanuel defeated Mr. Polanski’s arguments in the Los Angeles Superior Court’s writ division, which heard Mr. Polanski’s petition to be reinstated as a member of the Academy.  The court held that the procedures afforded Mr. Polanski by the Academy were “fair and reasonable” in the circumstances of Mr. Polanski’s conviction and the nature and purposes of the Academy.  Because the court found the Academy’s process substantively fair and reasonable, it did not need to reach more technical arguments about the disentitlement of fugitives from pursuing civil remedies in the courts from which they fled.