City Sues for Access to Film Footage in Central Park Jogger Case

WNYC's Marc Garber spoke with Ken Burns and his daughter, Sarah Burns, about the subpoena Wednesday on All Things Considered.

Lawyers for New York City are seeking access to footage gathered by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns for his movie about the five men exonerated in the Central Park Jogger rape case.

The city has issued a subpoena for the outtakes and other materials from the film "The Central Park Five," as first reported by The New York Times. The request is connected to a $250 million lawsuit filed by the men against the city after their sentences were vacated.

Burns has refused to hand over the footage. Attorney John Siegal, who represents Burns and the others who worked on the film project, said it is an infringement of Burns's free speech rights as a journalist.

Sarah Burns, his daughter, inspired the film after she researched the case while a student at Yale. She wrote a book on the subject and even worked as a paralegal of the lawyers representing the five accused men.

The City Law Department said in a statement to WNYC that the interviews Burns obtained go "to the heart of the case and cannot be found elsewhere."

"If the plaintiffs truly want an open airing of the facts, they should encourage the filmmakers not to hide anything," said Celeste Koeleveld of the City Law Department.

 

View a trailer of the film "The Central Park Five."