Judge Declines To Throw Out Linda Fairstein’s Lawsuit Against Netflix’s ‘When They See Us’

The former Manhattan prosecutor was portrayed by Felicity Huffman in the Ava DuVernay series.

A judge has denied Netflix’s request to dismiss Linda Fairstein’s lawsuit against the Ava DuVernay series When They See Us

Linda Fairstein, the former sex crimes prosecutor who oversaw the team that tried to convict the now-vindicated Exonerated 5, is suing Netflix and director Ava DuVernay over her portrayal in When They See Us. The Netflix series depicts the story of the young men who were wrongfully accused of raping a woman in Central Park in 1989.

In Fairstein’s lawsuit, she claims that after all episodes were released, she was portrayed as a "racist, unethical villain who is determined to jail innocent children of color at any cost."

According to Reuters, Manhattan’s U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel agreed that Fairstein has a plausible claim of defamation pertaining to five scenes. He wrote, “The average viewer could conclude that these scenes have a basis in fact and do not merely reflect the creators' opinions about controversial historical events.”

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The judge also ruled that Fairstein could pursue defamation claims against DuVernay, and the film’s writer and producer Attica Locke.

Netflix said in a statement, "We'll continue to vigorously defend 'When They See Us' and the incredible team behind the series, and we're confident that we'll prevail against Ms. Fairstein's few remaining claims." 

According to TMZ, in March of 2020, Fairstein filed a federal suit claiming she was afraid she’d be portrayed in a false and defamatory manner in the series. She says DuVernay’s only response was that Fairstein didn’t have the right to object before watching When They See Us.

Fairstein denies taking any of the following actions: unlawfully interrogating unaccompanied minors, calling for a roundup of young, Black, "thugs,” manipulating the timeline to pin the jogger's rape on the Central Park 5, referring to people of color as “animals,” directing NYPD detectives to coerce confessions, or suppressing DNA evidence.

Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana Jr., Kevin Richardson and Korey Wise were exonerated in 2002 via conclusive DNA evidence proving they did not rape investment banker Trisha Meili, who was known as the “Central Park Jogger” in 1989. The true assailant, Maias Reyes, confessed to the crime claiming he found religion while serving time for a different rape and murder. 

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