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Linda Fairstein sues Netflix for defamation in ‘When You See Us’

Former Prosecutor Linda Fairstein Sues Netflix for Defamation in ‘When They See Us’

On Wednesday, the former Manhattan prosecutor sued Netflix and director Ava DuVernay for defamation.

She argued that she was falsely portrayed as a “racist, unethical villain” pushing for the convictions of five black and Latino teenagers.

Ms. Fairstein claims the four-part series defamed her in nearly every scene in the three episodes in which her character (portrayed by Felicity Huffman) appears.

Former Prosecutor Linda Fairstein Sues Netflix for Defamation in ‘When They See Us’
Bestselling Crime Novelist Linda Fairstein

“Most glaringly, the film series falsely portrays Ms. Fairstein as in charge of the investigation and prosecution of the case against The Five, including the development of the prosecution’s theory of the case,” said Andrew Miltenberg, a lawyer for Ms. Fairstein.” In truth, and as detailed in the lawsuit, Ms. Fairstein was responsible for neither aspect of the case.

After the show premiered, online petitions and a hashtag, #CancelLindaFairstein, called for a boycott of her books and her removal from prominent boards.

The bestselling crime novelist became the object of public outrage prompting her to be dropped by her publisher and resigning from several prominent boards including her alma mater.

Series Plot

‘When You See Us’ is set on the 1989 case of a  jogger who was assaulted and raped in New York’s Central Park and five teenagers were subsequently charged and convicted of the crime after police-coerced confessions were obtained.

The quintet, labeled the Central Park Five, maintained its innocence and spent years in prison hoping to be exonerated.

Former Prosecutor Linda Fairstein Sues Netflix for Defamation in ‘When They See Us’

In 2002 they were exonerated after Matias Reyes, a convicted murderer and serial rapist, confessed to the crime.

In 2014, they were awarded a $41 million settlement though the City of New York denied any wrongdoing.

Netflix has since rejected Ms. Fairstein’s claims.

“Linda Fairstein’s frivolous lawsuit is without merit. We intend to vigorously defend ‘When They See Us’ and Ava DuVernay and Attica Locke, the incredible team behind the series.”

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