The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Medill Innocence Project Faces Ethics Questions

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 18, 2010 3:20PM

2010_11_medill_innocence.jpg Northwestern University's Medill Innocence Project, which has earned a reputation for its efforts in exonerating falsely convicted Death Row inmates, is under scrutiny from the Cook County State's Attorney and the university for ethics issues.

Prosecutors said in court yesterday that students secretly wore a wire while interviewing a witness, which is prohibited under most circumstances in Illinois. NU has hired former federal prosecutor Anton Valukas to look into that and other allegations, such as not turning over all documents related to the investigation by State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and that some witnesses were paid by students. Alvarez said the allegations raise serious ethical and legal issues as to how Innocence Project founder David Protess and his students obtained their information/

Protess said that, while he didn't authorize the wearing of a wire, he doesn't believe it's illegal because a private investigator was nearby, ready to intervene in case the interview went south. Protess also fears that news of the secret recording would distract from the Innocence Project's efforts to exonerate Anthony McKinney in the murder of Harvey security guard Donald Lindahl in 1978.