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In re McCray (“Central Park Five” subpoena)

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials

“The Central Park Five,” a documentary film created by Florentine Films, the production company run by Ken Burns, his daughter and son-in-law, reports the experiences of five men who were wrongfully convicted in participating in the April 1989 assault and rape of a jogger in Central Park. The men are currently in the midst of litigation against the city for damages resulting from those convictions. The City of New York has served a subpoena seeking all “audio and/or video materials documenting interviews with” 18 specifically named persons, in addition to current and former counsel, and any witnesses to the events described in the film. The Reporters Committee amicus brief, joined by the Associated Press, Dow Jones Co., Gannett Co. Inc. and The New York Times Co., argues that the court should quash the subpoena because the City disregards the well-established qualified reporter’s privilege shielding both confidential and non-confidential information from compelled disclosure. The City also claims that the producers should not be treated as journalists protected by the privilege, mainly because of one’s long-ago experience with a law firm involved in the litigation.

In re McCray (“Central Park Five” subpoena)