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Court makes final ruling in challenge to Brooklyn D.A. reality show

Former Brooklyn D.A. Charles J. Hynes. AP photo

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

A Manhattan court has made its final ruling on a challenge to former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ documentary series, which aired on CBS during the 2013 election cycle. New York County Supreme Court Justice Paul Wooten dismissed the challenge brought by 2013 Brooklyn D.A. contender Abe George that Hynes’ show was a violation of campaign finance laws.
 
In May 2013, broadcast network CBS announced a documentary series titled “Brooklyn D.A.” that followed “hard-charging prosecutors [with] larger-than-life personalities both inside the courtroom and out,” as described in a CBS press release promoting the show. Upon receiving notice of the show, George filed a motion requesting a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on the broadcast. George argued that the show was a reality show for the sole purpose of promoting Hynes to voters in advance of the 2013 D.A. race.

In George’s estimation, the contributions and monies put forth by CBS to create and produce the show were a corporate campaign contribution exceeding the cap set by the New York’s campaign finance laws.
 
Preliminary injunctions are generally held in the court’s sole discretion. In order for the court to grant George’s request for an injunction, he would have had to show that without the injunction, he would suffer irreparable injuries by the airing of “Brooklyn D.A.” and that he would likely win if the case were to go to trial.  Wooten found that George did not meet any of these requirements and dismissed the request for an injunction.
 
The 2013 election ended on Nov. 5, and “Brooklyn D.A.” aired in late May. It would seem that this final ruling by Wooten is moot. However, Wooten seems to use this ruling to note that George did not request a declaratory judgment to Hynes’ alleged illegal actions. A declaratory judgment, while not ordering action the way an injunction would, allows the court to announce—or declare—a party’s rights.

George could have, for example, asked the court to declare that reality shows are a form of campaign finance without having the court determine whether or not the Brooklyn D.A. show was indeed a reality show that violated campaign finance rules.
 
Hynes lost the 2013 D.A. race to Kenneth Thompson.

January 9, 2014 - 1:00pm


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