Recent Court Order on Discovery Narrows Window for Settlement
NEW YORK, N.Y. (TIP): Comptroller John C. Liu is urging the Mayor to instruct the New York City Law Department to negotiate promptly an appropriate settlement to the “Central Park Five” lawsuit, after lawyers for the five unjustly imprisoned men clearly expressed a willingness to engage in meaningful settlement discussions and a federal court set a deadline on discovery for the case, a significant development on the part of the court. “The Law Department’s stance of refusing to explore a fair and just settlement of this lawsuit is imprudent,” Comptroller Liu wrote in a March 25 letter to Mayor Bloomberg.
“I urge you to exercise your executive authority to assist in closing this terrible chapter in our City’s history, so that New Yorkers can finally put an end to the painful ‘Central Park Five’ saga.” Pointing to flaws in the prosecution of the Five identified in 2002 by then-District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, Liu threw the risks of the City’s refusal to negotiate into sharp relief. “The disturbing facts associated with this case raise the risk that at a civil trial of the Central Park Five’s claims, a jury may be persuaded that the NYPD or DA violated standards in investigating and prosecuting the Central Park Five,” he wrote. “Such a jury outcome could be very costly to the City.” Under the City Charter, the Comptroller’s office approves all settlements for the City. Liu earlier this year warned that prolonging the case risks exposing the City to mounting legal costs, and he has continued to urge both sides to come to the table as soon as possible, even offering his boardroom as a venue for the discussions. His renewed call comes in light of a recent court order directing that fact discovery in the case be completed by early June, and a letter from lawyers for the Central Park Five accepting his offer.