Friday, March 18, 2011

David Protess Fired from Northwestern Journalism School

Following the lead of New Jersey and New Mexico, Illinois recently abolished the death penalty. Governor Pat Quinn's decision to sign the abolition legislation was in large part due to decades of work by faculty and students at Northwestern University. Specifically, under the leadership of Professor David Protess, several Northwestern journalism students began investigating dubious death penalty cases in the Land of Lincoln. By the time then-Governor George Ryan commuted every death sentence in the state in 2003, thirteen innocent individuals had been freed from death row. Were it not for the grim truths of torture, discrimination, and generally shoddy police work, Ryan would not likely have made this controversial and historic decision.

Today, the Chicago Tribune ran a story detailing the circumstances of Protess's dismissal (note: he will no longer be teaching journalism classes, but retains his position with the Northwestern Innocence Project). He stands accused of withholding key evidence in the case of Anthony McKinney, currently serving a life sentence for murder, from prosecutors. Protess claims that all evidence that should have been shared was handled appropriately; everything else, he argues, was protected by journalistic privilege.

In a brief blog entry, journalist Liliana Segura places these events in a wider context. The Cook County District Attorney's Office has long targeted Protess and his students for aggressive investigations. Regardless of the weight of the current accusations, they do seem to come from folks who have long had it out for Protess.

3 comments:

Eleanor Novek: said...

This is heartbreaking. An unfortunate example of the cliche, no good deed goes unpunished. The work of Protess and his students has led to the exoneration of one written-off human being after another.

Katherine Hayden said...

Truly heartbreaking. David Protess is a professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. I have read an article about him in case study report writing service.

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