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When they See Us creator Ava DuVernay, Netflix win defamation suit against series- Cinema express

When they See Us creator Ava DuVernay, Netflix win defamation suit against series 

John E. Reid and Associates, a police training firm, filed the suit last year, alleging that When They See Us had falsely portrayed the "Reid Technique"

Published: 24th March 2020

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay and streaming service Netflix have won a defamation lawsuit over the award-winning limited series When They See Us, which was infused with themes of racism and injustice inflicted upon by the criminal system.

John E. Reid and Associates, a police training firm, filed the suit last year, alleging that When They See Us had falsely portrayed the "Reid Technique" - widely used method for conducting interrogations.

A federal judge ruled in favour of Netflix and director DuVernay on Monday, throwing out a defamation suit over the show about the Central Park jogger case. In his ruling, Judge Manish S Shah found that the series' depiction was protected under the First Amendment.

The four-part documentary series narrated the true story of five teens -- Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise, who were wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman in 1989. They were referred to as the Central Park Five or the Exonerated Five.

"You squeezed statements out of them after 42 hours of questioning and coercing, without food, bathroom breaks, withholding parental supervision," a character said, adding, "The Reid Technique has been universally rejected."

The police training firm alleged that the statement falsely characterised the technique, and incorrectly stated that the technique had been "universally rejected".

Judge Shah found that When They See Us employed loose rhetoric about the technique, protecting it from a defamation claim.

Last week, former prosecutor Linda Fairstein filed a defamation lawsuit against Netflix and DuVernay over the series, claiming that she was falsely portrayed as the racist mastermind behind the prosecution of the Central Park Five. Netflix said it would vigorously defend that lawsuit.

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