A lawyer for Roman Polanski asked a judge to sentence the fugitive director in a 32-year-old sex case while he is under house arrest in Switzerland.
Defense attorney Chad Hummel presented a letter from the director asking to be sentenced without returning to the US
Polanski fled the US in 1978 on the eve of sentencing after pleading guilty to one count of having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza accepted the letter but said he wants to see legal briefs that state why sentencing Polanski in absentia is appropriate.
"It seems to me there is a fairly big question about what his possible sentence could be," said Espinoza, who scheduled another hearing for January 22.
The judge did not say if he would schedule an evidentiary hearing to determine whether there was misconduct by a judge or prosecutors during the 1970s proceedings.
A three-judge panel of the California 2nd District Court of Appeal said last month there was likely prosecutorial misconduct that should be investigated. The panel also criticized Polanski for fleeing the country and refused to dismiss the case.
It did, however, suggest two legal options that could lead to his freedom now: file a motion to be sentenced in absentia, or drop his extradition fight, return to the US and be sentenced in person, most likely not resulting in additional jail time.
But the court's strongest point was to urge that the case be concluded, calling it "one of the longest-running sagas in California criminal justice history."
Polanski's lawyer asked for a private conference in the judge's chambers, but a prosecutor prevailed in asking to make Wednesday's session public. Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said media presence would prevent misconceptions of what might be said behind closed doors.