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Chicago police subpoena journalism professor's 16-year-old notes

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
A journalism professor who wrote articles about a now-exonerated teenage murder defendant during graduate school has been subpoenaed by lawyers…

A journalism professor who wrote articles about a now-exonerated teenage murder defendant during graduate school has been subpoenaed by lawyers representing Chicago police officers.

Western Washington University journalism professor Carolyn Nielsen was a graduate student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 1994 when she published articles detailing the seemingly unjust trial and conviction of Thaddeus “TJ” Jimenez, The Associated Press reported.

Jimenez was 13 years old at the time he was arrested and received a 45-year sentence for the murder of an 18-year-old. Nielson’s reporting exposed details of the teenager’s arrest and conviction –  including witnesses recanting testimony and a secret confession made by a different person – that caught the attention of lawyers who recently exonerated Jimenez, who then sued the Chicago Police Department and several officers for false arrest.

The attorneys representing the Chicago police officers subpoenaed Nielson’s notes on the case after reading a blog entry she wrote last year that discussed the retention of her drafts, notes and letters from Jimenez. A federal judge in Seattle this week ordered Nielsen to "preserve all documents responsive to the defendant’s subpoena."

Nielsen’s legal team said the professor intends to fight the subpoena and assert her reporter’s privilege by citing favorable rulings made by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Sacramento (9th Cir.), the circuit in which the subpoena was served.