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Wed Feb 20, 2013, 02:46 AM

City Rebuffed in Bid for Outtakes From Central Park Jogger Film.

New York City lawyers were rebuffed on Tuesday in their efforts to subpoena outtakes from the documentary filmmaker Ken Burns’s movie about the five men who were convicted and later exonerated in the racially charged 1989 Central Park jogger rape case.

A federal lawsuit brought by the men has been pending for 10 years. As part of the city’s defense, its lawyers last year subpoenaed notes and outtakes from Mr. Burns’s film, “The Central Park Five,” which was released last year and included extensive interviews with the men. Mr. Burns, who made the film with his daughter, Sarah Burns, and her husband, David McMahon, fought the subpoena, describing it as an assault on journalism that would have a chilling effect on reporting of sensitive cases.

City lawyers argued that Mr. Burns’s production company had veered from journalism into advocacy on behalf of the five, in part because he had publicly said he hoped the film would encourage the city to finally settle the case. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis of United States District Court in Manhattan rejected the city’s contention that the issue was similar to a federal appellate court ruling in 2011 concerning another documentary filmmaker, Joe Berlinger. . .

Mr. Burns, who was vacationing with his family in Puerto Rico, said he “jumped up and down” when he learned of the decision.

“I think it’s a hugely important decision and I think it reverses some of the harmful effects of the Berlinger decision,” he said.


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