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Ken Burns wins legal battle against NYC over “Central Park Five”

After New York City officials issued a subpoena against "Central Park Five" filmmakers Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon in October 2012, they hoped to obtain unreleased footage examining the wrongful conviction of five black and Hispanic men in the infamous, racially charged 1989 Central Park jogger case. The five, who have since been exonerated, nine years ago filed an as-of-yet unsettled $250 million lawsuit against the city; Burns and his team have been vocal in their hopes that the case will be settled soon. City officials -- who did not cooperate in the making of the film -- had planned to obtain Burns' footage and find material to present in defense in the ongoing lawsuit, claiming that Burns and his team shouldn't get reporters' privilege because they were making a "one-sided advocacy piece."

Yesterday, however, Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis of United States District Court in Manhattan ruled against the city, upholding the filmmakers' argument that "Central Park Five" was constructed as independent, investigative journalism. He argued that, “Indeed, it seems likely that a filmmaker would have a point of view going into a project,” but having an opinion does not have to be in conflict with independent reporting.

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