June 17, 2019
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is refusing calls to fire Assistant DA Elizabeth Lederer, the lawyer who led the 1989 Central Park Five prosecution, amid heightened attention spurred by When They See Us, a Netflix miniseries about the case. Vance has also rejected demands to reopen thousands of cases overseen by former Assistant DA Linda Fairstein from 1976 to 2002 in the sex-crimes unit, the New York Daily News reports. The Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, the Legal Aid Society, and the New York County Defender Services called for a review of 26 years’ worth of cases. Vance turned a request by the city’s public advocate for both actions, writing in a statement that Lederer is “an attorney in good standing in this office.”
Ava DuVernay’s dramatized miniseries has reignited outrage and created fallout for those involved in the wrongful conviction of five black youths for the 1989 rape of a white jogger in Central Park. Lederer announced last week she will not return to teach at Columbia Law School after students protested her position, and Fairstein, whose office was in charge of the prosecutions, was dropped from her book publisher and resigned from several charity boards due to backlash.