Netflix has been ordered by a federal judge to take on a defamation lawsuit by best-selling author and former Manhattan prosecutor Linda Fairstein over her portrayal in the 2019 crime drama about the Central Park Five. Ta.
U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel ruled Tuesday that Feirstein accused Netflix, director Ava DuVernay and writer-producer Attica Locke of acting with actual malice in five scenes of “When They See Us.” He said he had made a plausible argument.
The series dramatizes the stories of five black and Hispanic teenagers who were wrongly convicted of raping a white jogger in Central Park in April 1989 and spent five to 13 years in prison. It is something. Another man confessed in 2002.
In his 67-page decision, Castel wrote that in portraying Fairstein as a villain emblematic of broader problems in criminal justice, the defendants “reverse engineered the plot, not hers, but the defendants’ support.” “We found evidence that showed that Fairstein was attributing actions, responsibilities, and views that he did not.” “A considerable amount of research material.”
The Manhattan judge said jurors should decide whether there was “clear and convincing evidence of the defendant’s reckless indifference to the truth.”
Netflix, based in Los Gatos, California, and attorneys for the defendants did not respond to requests for comment. Fairstein’s attorney had no immediate comment.
Mr. Fairstein, 76, was in charge of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s sex crimes unit when the 28-year-old jogger, later identified as Trisha Meili, was attacked.
The five alleged defamatory scenes include suggestions that Fairstein withheld evidence, coerced confessions and ordered a mass police roundup of young black men in Harlem.
The backlash to the series led to Fairstein losing her publisher, resigning under pressure from multiple boards of directors, and coming under attack on social media, including under the hashtag #CancelLindaFairstein.
The defendants said Fairstein presented no evidence that her depiction “reflected the essence of truth” and was protected by the First Amendment.
They also said the lawsuit threatens filmmakers’ ability to dramatize controversial real-life events told from “different and often marginalized perspectives.”
New York City reached a $41 million settlement with five original defendants in 2014 without admitting wrongdoing.
The case is Fairstein v. Netflix Inc. et al., U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 20-08042.