Miltenberg: “Former Manhattan prosecutor Linda Fairstein reaches a settlement with Netflix in defamation case,” NBC News


Former Manhattan Prosecutor Linda Fairstein and Netflix announced Tuesday that they have reached a settlement in the defamation case she filed against the streaming platform for her portrayal in the 2019 miniseries “When They See Us.” Fairstein filed the lawsuit in March 2020, less than a year after the series directed by Ava DuVernay debuted on Netflix. The defamation case was set to go to trial later this month. “The parties announce that they have resolved this lawsuit. Netflix will donate $1 million to the Innocence Project. Ms. Fairstein will not receive any money as part of this settlement,” Netflix, DuVernay, Attica Locke and Fairstein said in a joint statement. In a separate statement, DuVernay excoriated the former prosecutor, saying Fairstein pulled the plug on her case rather than face the defendants in open court in a matter of days. “She walked away with no payment to her or her lawyers of any kind, rather than face cross examination before a New York jury,” DuVernay said. The director said that Fairstein’s rejection of a confidentiality agreement allows DuVernay to, for the first time, share what she feels about Fairstein’s claims. “I believe that Linda Fairstein was responsible for the investigation and prosecution of the Central Park Jogger case that resulted in the wrongful conviction of five innocent Black and Brown boys,” DuVernay said. Fairstein’s lawyer, Miltenberg, disputed many of DuVernay’s assertions, saying in a statement late Tuesday that settlement negotiations took place over a few days and included “a standard confidentiality agreement,” as well as a proposal for compensation limited to Fairstein’s attorney fees. He said DuVernay’s attorney “was not involved in any direct settlement discussions.” Miltenberg also said future streaming of “When They See Us” will include a note to viewers stating that elements of the film were fictionalized. Netflix could not be reached for comment Tuesday night about DuVernay’s latest statement.  Following the series’ release, Fairstein was dropped by her publisher and resigned from her position on Vassar College’s board of trustees and from organizations after backlash over her role in the infamous prosecution. The series tells the true story of five Black teenagers who were wrongly convicted and imprisoned for the 1989 rape and beating of a white jogger in New York City’s Central Park. DNA evidence was eventually used to overturn their convictions. The city ultimately agreed in a legal settlement to pay the exonerated men $41 million. Fairstein, who was the head of the Manhattan District Attorney’s sex crimes unit at the time of the case, felt she was unfairly portrayed in the Netflix series.

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