The Explainer's Roman Polanski roundup.

Answers to your questions about the news.
Sept. 28 2009 7:18 PM

What's "Unlawful Sexual Intercourse"?

And other questions from the Explainer's Roman Polanski roundup.

(Continued from Page 1)

There is no question that Rittenband violated the ethics code. The question of whether his conversations with Wells are sufficient grounds for dismissal of the charges against Polanski is an open question. There is very little law on the subject to guide the judge who's now presiding over the case. Outright dismissal is an exceedingly rare remedy for ex parte communications, especially when the communications came after the plea agreement was reached. It's far more common for the plea agreement to stand, with a new judge brought in to preside over the sentencing. The original judge could also face sanctions. (Judge Rittenband is deceased, so there's a good chance the unethical contacts will have no impact.)

Got a question about today's news? Ask the Explainer.

Explainer thanks Gerald F. Uelmen of Santa Clara Law and Charles D. Weisselberg of Berkeley Law.

Brian Palmer is Slate's chief explainer. He also writes How and Why and Ecologic for the Washington Post. Email him at explainerbrian@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter.