A judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by former prosecutor Linda Fairstein against Hollywood director Ava DuVernay and Netflix over their limited series When They See Us.
“Because the First Amendment protects non-factual assertions (and because neither defendants Ava DuVernay nor Array Alliance Inc. has sufficient minimum contacts with the State of Illinois to justify haling them into court here), Reid’s complaint is dismissed,” wrote U.S. District Court Judge Manish Shah on Monday.
The suit claimed that the series had also falsely portrayed the “Reid Technique,” its widely used method for conducting interrogations.
“If the technique is as widely used as Reid says it is, the effect of the criticism has been felt well beyond Illinois’s borders,” the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division official noted. “To find that DuVernay should be haled into court here because she criticized a process sold by a company that happens to be located in Illinois would be to offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.”
Fairstein, who was one of the lead prosecutors in the infamous Central Park Five case, faced backlash over her handling of the case, which saw five Black teens spend time in prison for a crime that they did not commit.
“It’s a basket of lies,” she told The Daily Beast in June 2019, calling the docuseries “a totally and completely untrue picture of events and my participation,” including “putting words in my mouth that I never said in Oliver Stone fashion.”
We didn’t think she’d win the defamation suit, and we’re glad the judge agrees that Fairstein needs to have a seat.