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N.Y. Times Settles Libel Suit

October 29, 1997

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The New York Times on Tuesday settled a multimillion-dollar libel lawsuit filed last year by a former Philadelphia prosecutor over a story reporting that she hid evidence and kept blacks off juries.

``There is an agreement in principle. We are still working on the final settlement documents,″ Times spokeswoman Heidi Pokorney said.

Terms of the deal were not released. U.S. District Court Judge Eduardo Robreno issued an order Tuesday afternoon dismissing the case.

Barbara L. Christie, who now works in the legal office of the Pennsylvania State Police in Harrisburg, had sought $2.1 million, saying the depiction of her in the 1995 New York Times Magazine article was false and damaged her reputation with colleagues, judges, police and the public.

Ms. Christie and her attorney, Richard A. Sprague, did not return several messages left for comment.

The story by reporter Tina Rosenberg profiling Christie’s boss at the time, District Attorney Lynne Abraham, held Christie up as an example of prosecutors going too far.

``Toughness often crosses the line into misconduct,″ the article said. ``Barbara Christie, who was chief of homicide before Dave Webb, frequently had her convictions reversed by higher courts for hiding evidence that indicated a defendant’s innocence and for knocking blacks off juries. Abraham demoted Christie, who had become a magnet for criticism.″

Christie denied in the lawsuit that she engaged in misconduct, withheld evidence of innocence, had frequent reversals because of withheld evidence or keeping blacks off juries or that she was demoted.

The assertions were ``no more than a gratuitous slap at a dedicated career prosecutor who has vigorously sought to carry out her duties,″ the lawsuit said.

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