“Brooklyn DA,” the notorious docu-series profiling former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ administration, finds itself, once again, the subject of legal controversy. An accused subject of prosecution whose case was covered by cameras that were following the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office for the television show is asked the broadcast network to provide all raw footage relating to his case, believing that the material will exonerate him.
CBS, producer and broadcast network of the show “Brooklyn DA,” initially refused the request of Joselito Vega but recently announced that it had reached a deal with his attorney, Tim Parlatore, whereby the network will turn over tapes of Vega’s search and arrest.
The six-episode CBS docu-series “Brooklyn DA,” which aired May 28, 2013, depicted prosecutors as they worked to investigate and bring to justice to a myriad of Brooklyn cases. One such case was that of Vega, an accused art thief. Prior to the airing of the show, the Brooklyn DA’s Office issued a press release announcing Vega’s indictment for the theft of paintings by Pablo Picasso, Jean Dubuffet and Yaacov Agam.
In order to catch him in the act, Brooklyn sting investigators hired Vega, a house painter by trade, to paint a home in Kings Point, Long Island. Works of art were placed in the home, and hidden cameras were set up. Vega was caught on video taking three works of art. While Vega was caught on Brooklyn surveillance cameras, CBS cameras recorded the entire process of the investigation as they were documenting footage for the pending series.
Parlatore filed a motion demanding the footage, and CBS countered with a motion to squash on the grounds that as a news organization, it is protected under the shield law — a law that protects journalists and news organizations from revealing their information sources obtained during the news-gathering process. Parlatore argued that CBS was not afforded the protection of the shield law because its close relationship with the Brooklyn DA’s office during the filming of the series.
With the announcement of an agreement between CBS and Parlatore, the legal arguments have become moot. Palatore will use the information gathered from CBS’ footage to further his client’s direct claim against the Brooklyn DA’s Office.