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Northwestern Settles in Wrongful Conviction Case

June 4, 2018

Northwestern University settled Friday with a man who said he was wrongly convicted in a double murder case following attention from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. The man, Alstory Simon, in a federal lawsuit accused Northwestern and David Protess, a former professor of investigative journalism, of conspiring against him to free death row inmate Anthony Porter for the 1982 murders of Jerry Hillard and Marilyn Green, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Simon sought $40 million, but the amount of the settlement was not disclosed. Matthew Piers, Protess’s attorney, said Protess admitted no wrongdoing and stood by his work, which he still believes proves Simon’s guilt. Northwestern also admitted no wrongdoing and said it was “pleased” with the settlement. Simon’s attorney declined to comment. Simon also reportedly filed a motion to dismiss claims against private investigator Paul Ciolino, who worked for Protess and obtained a controversial confession from Simon.

Protess founded Medill’s Innocence Project, which helped exonerate 11 wrongfully convicted men, according to the Tribune. He left in Northwestern in 2011 to found his own organization, amid controversy about the project’s tactics. Many of the details in the Simon case remain under seal. Simon has said he was pressed into confessing. His case contributed to the end of the death penalty in Illinois.

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Colleen Flaherty

Colleen Flaherty, Reporter, covers faculty issues for Inside Higher Ed. Prior to joining the publication in 2012, Colleen was military editor at the Killeen Daily Herald, outside Fort Hood, Texas. Before that, she covered government and land use issues for the Greenwich Time and Hersam Acorn Newspapers in her home state of Connecticut. After graduating from McGill University in Montreal in 2005 with a degree in English literature, Colleen taught English and English as a second language in public schools in the Bronx, N.Y. She earned her M.S.Ed. from City University of New York Lehman College in 2008 as part of the New York City Teaching Fellows program. 

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