Netflix Defends Depiction of Linda Fairstein in ‘When They See Us’ – Variety


Netflix has fired again at former New York prosecutor Linda Fairstein, defending its villainous depiction of her in “When They See Us.”

Fairstein filed a defamation lawsuit towards the Netflix and director Ava DuVernay in March, alleging that she was portrayed in “When They See Us” as a racist prosecutor hellbent on locking up harmless males. She argued she was depicted utilizing racially inflammatory language that she would by no means use, and that her profession as a public speaker and authorized marketing consultant had been ruined.

In a movement to dismiss the swimsuit filed on Monday, Netflix argued that the characterization was considerably true, and that the filmmakers have artistic license to invent dialogue and scenes for dramatic functions.

“At least a dry, summary expression of opinion, the dramatized dialogue of which Plaintiff complains is protected speech,” Netflix’s attorneys argued. “And right here, criticism of Plaintiff’s actions as a strong public official is on the coronary heart of what the First Modification protects.”

Within the lawsuit, Fairstein took challenge with quite a few scenes, saying she was not current for sure occasions and by no means spoke the phrases her character utters. For instance, Fairstein is proven interrogating one of the detainees, and asking if he was out “wilding” with one of his pals — referring to the concern of roaming teams of violent youngsters again then.

Fairstein stated she by no means interrogated anybody in the case, and didn’t know what the time period “wilding” meant on the time.

In response, Netflix quoted Fairstein referring to the assaults as “wilding” in a public assertion in 2003, and referring to the suspects as “vicious marauders” in her 1993 non-fiction guide.

“Plaintiff’s personal phrases alone bar any declare that this dialogue is lower than considerably true,” Netflix’s attorneys argue.

Netflix didn’t level to any proof that Fairstein truly questioned any of the detainees. However Netflix did notice that Fairstein instructed the mom of a 15-year-old detainee that she couldn’t see her son till after the interrogation was over — a scene that can also be depicted in the collection.

“A false assertion isn’t actionable if it may have produced no worse an impact on the thoughts of the reader than the reality,” Netflix argued.

Fairstein — who was portrayed by Felicity Huffman — can also be depicted as calling for a roundup of “each younger black male who was in the park final night time,” and directs officers to go to Harlem and “cease each little thug you see.” In her criticism, she says the scene by no means occurred, she didn’t have the ability to order NYPD officers to do this and the scene wrongfully depicts her as racist.

Netflix argued that Fairstein can’t declare that the scene reveals her as a racist, as her character would have been in search of suspects that match an outline. Netflix additionally quoted Fairstein referring to the NYPD’s work on the case as “sensible.”

“The dialogue, furthermore, is clearly hyperbolic and displays the fraught circumstances,” Netflix argued. “No affordable viewer would consider the Fairstein character was actually anticipating officers to arrest ‘each child’ who was in Central Park.”

Fairstein has continued to defend the now-vacated 1989 prosecution, although the suspects have been exonerated. Netflix argues that simply as she is free to present her opinion of the case, the defendants are additionally entitled to have the story instructed from their perspective.

“Thus, even when the dialogue didn’t truly mirror Plaintiff’s personal phrases and even when her portrayal may very well be interpreted to attribute ‘racist motivations’ to her, such statements are protected opinion in the context of this dramatization and its clear level of view,” Netflix argued. “Plaintiff can’t maintain Defendants chargeable for ‘expressing their opinion of’ her actions as a public official who helped lead, and to this present day helps, the prosecution towards the 5.”

Netflix additionally filed a movement to strike the criticism beneath the California anti-SLAPP statute, which protects speech on issues of public concern, and a movement to dismiss the swimsuit as a result of it was wrongfully filed in Florida.


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