No matter how bad the headlines, the owners of the New York Mets have to play by rules against a $1 billion lawsuit, said the bankruptcy trustee in the Bernard Madoff case.

Responding to a demand by the Wilpon family and their Sterling Equities partners for immediate disclosure of evidence in the clawback suit, trustee Irving Picard said they don't have a legal leg to stand on.

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The Wilpons want special treatment "to defend themselves in the court of public opinion," Picard's lawyer David Sheehan said in papers filed late Friday. But high-profile cases aren't uncommon and the rules should not change for them, he said.

Sheehan said bankruptcy-court rules allow Picard to gather evidence for the case's 1,000 clawback complaints and set up an orderly procedure to turn over materials before trial. If the court gave in, hundreds of other defendants would make the same request, he said.

The Wilpons and Sterling are seeking the evidence to defend against what they call "unfounded" allegations they knew or should have known about Madoff's fraud.A hearing is set for Thursday.