Local crusader breaks out on his own | News | OakPark.com

Posted: April 23, 2011 by scaryhouse in Uncategorized

By Megan Dooley

Oak Park’s David Protess, crusader against wrongful convictions, along with a group of fledgling young investigative reporters, is on the brink of breaking yet another case. But this time, if and when Protess and his protégés set free an innocent man, it won’t be under the auspices of the Medill School of Journalism’s Innocence Project, of which Protess was recently director. This time, it will be the independent effort of the Chicago Innocence Project, a non-profit organization formed by Protess after he left his post as a professor at Northwestern University’s journalism school under a cloud of controversy earlier this year.

The controversy began after State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, a River Forest resident, subpoenaed documents related to a wrongful conviction case for inmate Anthony McKinney, on which Protess and his journalism students were working. Protess was accused of failing to turn over the same case material to both McKinney’s lawyers and Alvarez’s office. Eventually, a Medill dean took a position against Protess, claiming that he deliberately misled Northwestern University, and the situation led to Protess’ suspension from teaching and replacement as director of the Medill Innocence Project.

But the professional obstacle has not hindered his momentum or his dedication to overturning wrongful imprisonments. Inaction, he says, isn’t an option. His clients have waited long enough.

“This is not about any one person. It’s about the cause. The mission of our work is going on as we speak,” Protess said.

The Chicago Innocence Project is currently moving forward on a completely volunteer basis with six Medill students who have “bolted” from the program. “I am teaching them without pay, and they are doing this without getting course credit,” Protess said of his team, which is currently working on a case to free inmate Stanley Wrice.

Wrice has been incarcerated for 28 years. He was sentenced to 100 years in prison for a brutal rape and assault. But Protess said his students have proven, conclusively, that Wrice is innocent and was tortured into a confession, under the supervision of the notorious former Chicago Police Department detective Jon Burge, who was accused of torturing hundreds of criminal suspects over a period of nearly 20 years and recently convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice and sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison.

“We’re very close to freeing yet another innocent man,” Protess said.

via Local crusader breaks out on his own | News | OakPark.com.

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