Chicago Prosecutor Defends Seeking Journalism Student Notes


Chicago chief prosecutor Anita Alvarez is defending the subpoenaing of Northwestern University journalism students’ notes and recordings of witness interviews by comparing them to investigators, reports the Chicago Tribune. “If you’re going to put yourself into the role of an investigator, then you need to turn over whatever your notes are,” Alvarez said. Attorney Richard O’Brien, who represents the university, disputed her characterization, saying the students are investigative journalists and should be protected under the Illinois Reporter’s Privilege Act.

“The fact that they are investigating does not mean that they were not also journalists,” he said. “They’re not mutually exclusive.” The Northwestern students published a story recently that they say proves the innocence of Anthony McKinney, convicted of killing a security guard in 1978. Said Alvarez: “All information is relevant. There are more notes that have not been turned over. We want to make sure cases are secure and that we don’t have the wrong person convicted.” Alvarez’s chief of staff, Dan Kirk, said prosecutors are also attempting to determine if the students approached the story with a bias.

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