A prosecutor with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office will leave her post as a part-time lecturer at Columbia Law School amid controversy over her role in the wrongful conviction of five black and Latino teens, according to Bloomberg Law.
Elizabeth Lederer was one of two assistant district attorneys who prosecuted Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson and Korey Wise, the so-called “Central Park 5,” in the brutal 1989 assault and rape of a jogger in Central Park.
The school’s Black Law Students Association had called for Lederer’s dismissal over her role in the prosecution of the five teens, who served full prison sentences before their convictions were vacated in 2002 due to DNA evidence exonerating them and a confession from serial rapist Mattias Reyes
Lederer is still a prosecutor with the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
Students unsuccessfully called on the university to remove Lederer in 2013, but public interest has been renewed in the case by the Netflix docudrama “When They See Us,” in which Lederer is played by Vera Farmiga.
Lederer informed the school of her decision not to seek reappointment late Wednesday, according to Law School Dean Gillian Lester.
“The mini-series has reignited a painful—and vital—national conversation about race, identity, and criminal justice,” Lester said in a statement, according to Bloomberg Law.
“I am deeply committed to fostering a learning environment that furthers this important and ongoing dialogue, one that draws upon the lived experiences of all members of our community and actively confronts the most difficult issues of our time,” she added.
Linda Fairstein, who oversaw the prosecution, has also faced backlash due to renewed interest generated by the miniseries. In addition to resigning from several charity boards, she was dropped from Little, Brown and Dutton, which published her crime fiction novels, last week.