David Protess, Northwestern Professor, Removed From Investigative Journalism Class

Star Northwestern Prof Removed From Class

Update: Northwestern University has released an official statement regarding the status of David Protess, saying that "... the laudable goal of the Innocence Project would not justify any improper actions that may have been taken by Professor Protess." Read the statement in full at the North by Northwestern.


A revered Northwestern journalism professor has been pulled from a popular investigative journalism class at the school without explanation, the Daily Northwestern reports.

David Protess, who has taught at the Medill School of Journalism for 29 years and leads the school's famed Innocence Project, was told of the decision in an e-mail this week. According to the Daily, Protess will still head the Innocence Project, though the group's future remains unclear as it was tightly intertwined with the class.

Relations between Protess and the university have soured as of late, stemming from an investigation into possible ethics violations within the Innocence Project related to the case of Anthony McKinney, whom the group said was wrongfully convicted of murder.

The Chicago Tribune has more:

Last month in the student newspaper, Protess accused the university of waging a "war" against him. And this week, the university told students that Protess won't be teaching his investigative reporting course for the upcoming spring quarter as expected. Students planning to take the course signed a petition asking university officials to reconsider and threatening to drop the class.

At the center of the dispute are memos written by students during their investigation of the McKinney prosecution --documents Protess turned over to McKinney's lawyers at Northwestern Law School's Center on Wrongful Convictions so they could try to win his freedom. Led by Protess to believe that only limited information had been shared, university officials said, they spent almost a year and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses fighting prosecutors' bid for all the student records.

Protess has denied all allegations the university has brought against him and the Innocence Project and said he was "disappointed" by the university's decision. The eight students enrolled in the class have started a petition urging the school to reconsider.

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