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Evidence withdrawn to render journalists' subpoena irrelevant

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
In an effort to persuade prosecutors to withdraw a subpoena for Innocence Project students’ notes, grades, and other information, a…

In an effort to persuade prosecutors to withdraw a subpoena for Innocence Project students’ notes, grades, and other information, a lawyer for the criminal defendant whose conviction is being questioned withdrew yesterday some of the exculpatory evidence journalism students had previously uncovered, the Daily Northwestern reported.

Northwestern University journalism students had uncovered specific evidence that suggested two other suspects might have committed the murder for which Anthony McKinney is serving a sentence, which a clinic at the university’s law school used to challenge McKinney’s conviction. On Wednesday, in an effort to encourage Judge Diane Cannon to quash the subpoena or declare it moot, Northwestern Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions filed a new brief and and an amended petition that excluded the evidence, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin reported. The remaining evidence includes interviews with witnesses who had identified McKinney as the killer and later recanted.

Northwestern has argued that the Illinois shield law, the Reporters Privilege Act, precludes subpoenas of student journalists.

Newspapers, news agencies and journalism groups filed friend-of-the-court briefs in January that support the Innocence Project’s argument. Hearings in the case will resume in March.