Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Kharey Wise and Yusef Salaam, all juveniles at the time, were originally sentenced in the case, with convictions based almost solely on confessions following 16 hours of interrogation without legal representation. In 2002, convicted rapist and murderer Matias Reyes, serving time for other crimes, confessed that he had committed the assault. DNA evidence confirmed his confession.
The original five are now suing the city of New York for the case's mishandling and their 15 years spent in prison. In the face of the law suit, the city wanted all research gathered by the filmmakers.
But the court has found that documentarians qualify as journalists with the benefit of Journalistic Privilege, and that their right to "uncover new information, advocate action and initiate public debate where none has previously existed" is protected. Attorney Andrew Cielli and doc advocate Michael C. Donaldson filed an amicus brief on behalf of the documentary community, with support from the International Documentary Association, NAMAC and Film Independent.
Bravo to all for prevailing at a time when documentary journalism is filling a role that broadcast journalism is not.