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
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2009 @ 6:39am

    US law as applied guilt or innocence after trial is irrelevant; all that is relevant is procedure. These students are destructive to closure therefore they are guilty of being an accessory after the fact even though the crime was committed before most of them were born. If you do not believe this then you need to have a long hard discussion with a prosecutor about innocent people being railroaded into a very long government paid vacation.

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