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Prosecutors Subpoena Tons Of Info On Student Journalists Who Provided Information To Reopen Murder Case

from the chilling-effects dept

Northwestern University's Medill Innocence Project is a very cool program for journalism students, teaching them investigative reporting techniques in the real world, by having them investigate potential wrongful convictions. As the program's website notes, it's helped free 11 wrongfully convicted individuals, five of whom had been on death row. However, some prosecutors don't really like being proven incorrect. In one of its latest projects, the Innocence Project has provided enough evidence to reopen the case of Anthony McKinney, who has been in jail for 31 years for allegedly killing a security guard.

However, state's attorneys in Illinois are now subpoenaing all sorts of excess information on the students themselves, including their grades, the grading criteria, student evaluations, and private notes and and off-the-record interviews that were used in gathering the information necessary for the case. While the state's attorney Anita Alvarez is defending this overreaching subpoena effort, it has many concerned that this is really just an attempt to intimidate the students and create a serious chilling effect on this type of investigative research. It's difficult to see how the student's grades make any difference at all in whether or not McKinney is innocent or guilty.

Filed Under: chilling effects, investigative reporting, journalism, medill innocence project, students


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  1. identicon
    Nobody, 22 Oct 2009 @ 7:15am

    What difference do grades make?

    I say, if they feel the students grades are relevant to the information, then the grades and academic notes for the lawyers and judge, as well as the jury, for the original case need to be reviewed as well.

    After all, using whatever logic was applied to the subpoena(s), the same information for those parties responsible for the original verdict would have even more impact than that of these students.

    If they want to ask for something stupid, let's take it all the way!

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