Polanski had fled the US in 1978, just before he was about to be sentenced for having illegal intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. He was arrested on an international warrant in Zurich, Switzerland, in September this year.
While expressing deep concern over allegations of misconduct by the now-deceased judge in the original trial, the three judges at California's 2nd District Court of Appeal said in a 70-page opinion that they has seen a TV documentary which, if true, showed the judge had been "ushered along a path of iniquity by an officer of the court with a personal axe to grind," reports the Telegraph.
Polanski claims he fled since he was convinced the judge would go back on the agreement not to pronounce a harsh sentence. The appeal judges suggested that Polanski could be said to have served his entire sentence already as he had spent 42 days under psychiatric evaluation before fleeing from the US.
The judges noted that if the evidence of judicial misconduct was found true they were "confident that the trial court could fashion a legal sentence that results in no further incarceration for Polanski." They added: "Fundamental fairness and justice in our criminal justice system are far more important than the conviction and sentence of any one individual."