(VitalNews.org) – New York District Judge Kevin Castel ruled on Tuesday that the case against Netflix by Linda Fairstein, a former Manhattan prosecutor who was portrayed as a villain in the 2019 Netflix series “When They See Us,” a historical drama based on the real-life Central Park Five case.
Fairstein was the prosecutor in the Central Park Five case. Five young black men were accused of raping and murdering a woman. They spent a great deal of time behind bars until, years later, someone else admitted to being the sole perpetrator of the gruesome crime and the five were released. The Netflix series tells the story of their conviction, incarceration, and adjusting to life after release, and Fairstein is portrayed as a racist prosecutor and the embodiment of the evil justice system that ruined their lives.
Fairstein filed a defamation lawsuit in Florida against Netflix in March 2020. In September 2020, a judge approved a motion by Netflix to move the case to New York, which was deemed appropriate since most of the events shown in the series “take place almost exclusively” in the Big Apple and portray Fairstein’s former career there as a prosecutor.
Netflix filed a motion for a summary judgment of the case, which Castel denied on Tuesday. He will let Fairstein’s case go to trial. The judge said that the evidence shows a plot was “reverse-engineered” by the defendants to “portray Fairstein as the series villain” which led to attributing “actions, responsibilities, and viewpoints” to her “that were not hers” without any support in the “body of research materials” used by the defendants.
Five scenes in question will be discussed by the court as well as the evidence provided by the defendants to support their “subjective belief” that their depiction of Fairstein was “faithful to their understanding of the facts.” The judge also said a jury would have to “weigh the competing inferences” for each scene and determine if the defendants acted with reckless indifference to the truth in their portrayal of the plaintiff in each example.
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