Legal Ethics

Did Renowned Journalism Prof Known for Innocence Work Give Evidence Only to the Defense?

Renowned for his work in helping those wrongfully convicted prove their innocence, a high-profile Northwestern University journalism professor is apparently benched from teaching his popular investigative reporting course this spring.

David Protess was initially defended by Northwestern when prosecutors in a Cook County, Ill., case contended that they were entitled to a broad swatch of materials related to the work done by his students to clear Anthony McKinney of committing a 1978 murder. But now university representatives also are concerned that the journalism prof may have turned over to the defense at Center on Wrongful Convictions at NU’s law school information that wasn’t turned over to the prosecution, reports the Chicago Tribune.

A lawyer hired by Northwestern to defend the prosecution’s demand for more information is no longer representing Protess individually, the newspaper says, although it is in dispute whether the lawyer fired Protess or Protess fired the lawyer. And another lawyer, Anton Valukas of Jenner & Block, is investigating whether there were any ethical lapses in the reporting done by the prof and his students.

Meanwhile, attention has been shifted from McKinney, who remains in prison, to the evidentiary battle.

“Our reporting speaks for itself,” says Protess. “Anthony McKinney is an innocent man, and this latest leak is yet another smoke screen to cover up his wrongful conviction.”

For more details about the dispute, read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

Additional coverage: “Prosecution Says NU Students and PI Paid Witness for Exonerating Statement” “Prosecutor Says Student Wire Raises ‘Serious Legal & Ethical Questions’ in Innocence Probe”

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