Elizabeth Lederer will no longer teach at Columbia Law school after students demanded her firing for her role in prosecuting the black and Latino teens ultimately exonerated in the Central Park jogger case.
Lederer informed the university late on Wednesday of her decision to not seek reappointment as a part-time lecturer due to the publicity generated by a newly released Netflix portrayal, “When They See Us,” of the case that gripped New York and generated headlines nationally 30 years ago, Law School Dean Gillian Lester said in a statement.
“The mini-series has reignited a painful—and vital—national conversation about race, identity, and criminal justice. 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,” Lester said.
The school’s Black Law Students Association pressured the law school to fire Lederer over her role in wrongful conviction of the five defendants in the assault and rape of a white female jogger. They went to prison before their convictions were thrown out in 2002 after another man confessed.
The case has since been widely cited by criminal justice reform advocates as an example of how law enforcement and the justice system can criminalize and mistreat young men and women of color.
Columbia Law students previously called on the university without success to remove Lederer in 2013.
The student letter followed a petition by the Columbia University Black Students’ Organization calling for Lederer to step down, which received nearly 10,000 signatures.
Lederer remains a prosecutor with the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
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(Updates throughout with Lederer dropping teaching position.)