Attorneys at New York City's Law Department are upset that a judge said they manipulated a quote by filmmaker Ken Burns in trying to win enforcement of a subpoena for outtakes from his controversial documentary, "The Central Park Five." City lawyers have asked Southern District Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis (See Profile) to modify his Feb. 19 opinion where he quashed the subpoena for outtakes in the $250 million civil rights lawsuit brought by five plaintiffs who claim they were wrongly imprisoned for the infamous 1989 attack on Central Park jogger Patricia Meili.
Ellis said in his ruling that the city had "mischaracteriz[ed]" that Burns said in an interview the purpose of the film was "first and foremost" to put pressure on the city to settle the lawsuit. Ellis also said the "manipulation of the quote" was "troubling" (NYLJ, Feb. 20).
The day after the ruling, Assistant Corporation Counsel Philip DePaul wrote a letter to the judge insisting the Law Department accurately quoted Burns from an interview the director gave Variety as well as similar sentiment Burns expressed in an interview with the Huffington Post. Ellis did not mention the Huffington Post quote in his opinion, and, in asking the court to modify its opinion, DePaul said the city defendants "respectfully submit that they did not manipulate the Variety quote. Rather, defendants quoted from both Variety and the Huffington Post in one sentence, properly citing to both sources."