Friday, October 14, 2011

Former Protess student accused of plagiarism

Posted By on 10.14.11 at 03:34 PM

A product of David Protess's Medill Innocence Project has resigned from Politico after being accused of plagiarism, the Poynter Institute reported Friday, adding that seven of the reporter's articles have now been amended online by Politico to include missing attribution.

The reporter is Kendra Marr, who in 2006, Poynter recalls, was a student of Protess's who "claimed to be a U.S. census worker in order to locate a witness in a murder case." Caught in her deception, last May, Marr told the Chicago Tribune, "I was a student in the class, and I wish I hadn't done it. It wasn't my idea, and as a professional journalist, I haven't misrepresented myself since, nor do I intend to ever again."

Protess told the Tribune the misrepresentation was the idea of a private investigator working with the Innocence Project, but that he went along with it. The investigator, Sergio Serritella, denied it was his idea.

The Poynter story was closely read Friday both in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and at Medill—and no doubt with some measure of satisfaction. (I got a heads-up about the story in an e-mail from the SAO.) The SAO has accused Protess and some former students of his of acting as partisans rather than as disinterested journalists in investigating the case of the imprisoned Anthony McKinney, whom the Innocence Project concluded is innocent of a 1978 murder. Medill accused him of misleading university attorneys defending him against an SAO subpoena for documents in the McKinney case. Last spring Protess was removed from the classroom, and he subsequently resigned.

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