Famed journalism project a target of prosecutors

Prosecutors in Chicago are investigating the renowned Medill Innocence Project at Northwestern University, famed for helping free 12 wrongly convicted defendants and prompting former Gov. George Ryan to empty the state’s death row.

The Cook County state’s attorney asserts that project students and the founder, David Protess, behaved more like advocates than journalists, and thus cannot claim a journalist’s privilege against subpoenas under the Illinois shield law.

The controversy over the project’s tactics led Medill dean John Lavine to fire Protess, who now runs the Chicago Innocence Project.

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