“When They See Us” sheds light on the deficiencies within the criminal justice system. Five Black and Latino teens — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise — were convicted and served time in prison for the crime. They were later exonerated in 2002 after the real rapist confessed.
Although the lives of the five men have recently been highlighted through the series and numerous interviews, most of the people who helped to convict the Central Park 5 have stayed out of the limelight.
Here are five things to know about the prosecutors and judge involved in the case.
In 1989, Fairstein served as the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Sex Crimes Unit. Once evidence surfaced exonerating the Central Park Five, Fairstein spoke out against the new evidence. She claimed that even with the lack of DNA evidence, the boys still were present during the crime. Fairstein became a best-selling crime novelist but was recently dropped by her publisher due to the backlash following the film’s airing.
As the assistant district attorney, Lederer presented the case and claimed that hair from one of the Central Park 5 members matched the victim. However, DNA evidence proved that she was wrong. Following the case, Lederer became an adjunct professor at Colombia School of Law.
Clements served as a co-prosecutor during the Central Park 5 case. He also claimed that the boys were present even after they were cleared by DNA evidence. Clements eventually moved to Cleveland where he works with a corporate law firm.
Morgenthau served as the New York District Attorney from 1975-2009. Although he acknowledged the mistake during a 2016 interview in the New York Times, the now-99-year-old believed their confessions were enough to go ahead with the convictions.
Justice Thomas Galligan
Galligan challenged the law that parents were required to be present when minors are questioned by the police. As a result, the confessions that occurred without the boys’ parents presence remained as evidence during the 1989 case. During the sentencing, he told the court that the defendants did not show any remorse. Galligan died in 2015 at the age of 90.