The Chicago company that created a controversial interrogation technique is trying to put When They See Us director Ava DuVernay and Netflix in the legal hot seat over a line in the Emmy-winning series.
“Defendants published the statements in When They See Us in an effort to cause a condemnation of the Reid Technique,” says the suit filed by the long established John E. Reid & Associates against the Oscar nominee and the streamer over a line in the fourth and final episode. The series depicts the rush to justice against five young men falsely accused in the near-fatal 1989 rape of a woman who was jogging in Central Park.
Claiming defamation, the plaintiffs want unspecified widespread damages and profits from DuVernay and Netflix. In a big reach, they also want the June 12-launching and critically acclaimed When They See Us taken off Netflix globally until the offending line is omitted or changed.
Having alleged already declined Reid’s demands for a redaction, Netflix declined to comment on the lawsuit today. Named as a defendant along with her ARRAY Alliance, DuVernay did not respond to request for comment from Deadline.
In the episode helmed and co-penned by DuVernay, NYPD Detective Michael Sheenan is castigated by the Famke Janssen played Deputy D.A for using the “universally rejected” Reid Technique to get the accused to cough up confessions — confessions that further investigation and the courts took decades to find were coerced. “I don’t even know what the f*cking Reid Technique is, OK?” replies the characted played by William Sadler. “I know what I was taught. I know what I was asked to do, and I did it.”
Regardless of who knew what onscreen, the company with the name of the ex-Chicago cop who developed the method developed back in the 1950s is crying foul. Through their Cozen O’Conner attorneys, Reid & Associates allege in the partially jury seeking suit that When They See Us “fabricated a scene designed to broadcast to the audience a conversation they made up that included false statements as to the Reid Technique.”
Although a number of jurisdictions domestically and internationally have been using other techniques in recent decades, Reid & Associates insist their method has not been rejected. In the complaint, they cite the triple-staged technique has extra protection built in for interrogating minors, such as was the case with the now “Exonerated Five.” The company also asserts that more than 200,000 individuals around the world have taken their training to learn the Reid Technique in the past 20 years or so.
“At nearly all of its seminars and programs, Reid now fields questions and negative feedback regarding When They See Us and its criticism of the Reid Technique,” moans the federally filed complaint. “Accordingly, Reid has now dedicated a regular section of its training seminars and programs to addressing When They See Us and the ‘Central Park Jogger’ case,” the 41-page document adds.
And if you think my use of the word “moans” was a bit too much, they then say: “Reid’s inclusion of these additional corrective measures is costly and has been a drain on its time and resources.”
The multi-nominated When They See Us had a big win at the 71st Primetime Emmys when Jharrel Jerome took home the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his portrayal of Korey Wise, one of the five young men jailed for the crime he didn’t commit.
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