Netflix and Ava DuVernay have formally responded to a lawsuit over DuVernay’s series When They See Us. The lawsuit, filed by firm John E. Reid and Associates, claimed that a scene in When They See Us defamed an interrogation technique developed by the firm. In a Chicago district court filing, Netflix said the lawsuit is both unconstitutional and dangerous. “The dialogue at issue is fully protected speech under the First Amendment and is not actionable as a matter of law,” reads the filing. “Permitting this case to go forward would not only be contrary to law, it would have a profoundly chilling effect on core First Amendment speech.”
The dialogue in question is one line in a When They See Us scene, which depicts an investigator confronting a detective over the potentially coercive interrogation of a suspect. The investigator suspects that the detective has used the Reid Technique, and goes on to say that the technique has been “universally rejected.” John E. Reid and Associates specifically takes issue with the characterization of the technique as universally rejected. In the filing, Netflix notes that the dialogue was both a protected opinion under the First Amendment, as well as literary hyperbole. When They See Us centers around the case of the Central Park Five. The full suit against Netflix and DuVernay can be read here.