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Patch Editor Faces $300-A-Day Fines and Jail Time for Protecting Source

Patch Media immediately appeals judge's ruling.

Patch editor Joseph Hosey
Patch editor Joseph Hosey

A Will County judge found Patch Editor Joseph Hosey in criminal contempt Friday, fined him $1,000 plus $300 a day and told him he could go to jail in three months if he does not reveal the identity of a confidential source.

Patch Media immediately filed an appeal to Judge Gerald Kinney's order.

Kinney ruled that Hosey was in "minor direct criminal contempt" for not giving up the investigative reports that described in detail various aspects of a grisly Joliet double murder in January 2013, as well as the source of those documents.

According to the judge's ruling, Hosey was fined $1,000 plus court costs. He must pay $300 a day in fines from Aug. 29 up to 180 days. After 180 days, he could be jailed.

Hosey's attorney Kenneth L. Schmetterer immediately appealed the judge’s ruling. The fines were stayed pending appeal.

“Illinois courts have upheld the shield law to protect reporters precisely from having to divulge confidential sources because of the chilling effect it can have on the important work reporters can do,” Schmetterer said after Friday's hearing. “That’s a principle that’s established and recognized by appellate courts and the Illinois Supreme Court by the statute, and that’s why we’re going to vigorously press forward with our appeal.” 

Schmetterer said the appeal could take months. 

While in court, Schmetterer cited several previous cases where the term “friendly civil contempt” was used to describe a ruling, and all resulted in fines of varying amounts from $50 to $500. He urged the judge to consider that form of contempt ruling.

Attorney Chuck Bretz, one of the attorneys representing a defendant in the Joliet murder case and the lawyer who asked the judge to force Hosey to reveal his source, said he was “not sure if there is such a thing” as friendly civil contempt. Bretz asked that the judge's ruling include jail time for Patch's editor.

Bretz cited a gag order preventing him from making further comment after the hearing.

Kinney ruled in August that Hosey had to turn over the confidential source of the police reports used in his reporting on the murders, known as the Hickory Street murders.

Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Marie Czech said during the hearing that the grand jury proceedings in the Hickory Street murder cases were not compromised by Hosey’s articles, nor was evidence compromised. Czech also said the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office denies that First Assistant State’s Attorney Ken Grey made statements about a possible leak.

“I want to see if the appellate court will appropriately address this,” Kinney said.

Related Patch Coverage:

Baba Wawa September 22, 2013 at 10:54 PM
Harry, 1964 Mississippi called. They want their white sheet and hood back.
Baba Wawa September 23, 2013 at 07:33 AM
Oh, Harry. I see you've been spoon fed THAT story that's been all over Facebook and everywhere else dozens of times. YOU'RE the one that needs to look it up. You might learn something. You say it wasn't reported locally in Tennessee?? http://www.wbir.com/news/article/273990/2/Testimony-underway-in-final-Christian-Newsom-murder-retrial That's just one place. And: http://www.snopes.com/politics/crime/newsom.asp All the sources are listed at the bottom of the snopes article, as well as why it wasn't really a big national story. There's tens of thousands of murders across the country every year that aren't reported nationally, and that's usually because there's nothing juicy about it: Sex, celebrities, scandal, etc. So get off your conspiratorial soap box and OBSESSION with race. "Ah ha! They're black!" Yeah. And?
Tye September 25, 2013 at 10:30 AM
Are you kidding me? This defense attorney is a story himself! "Soon afterward, Glasgow called in the Illinois attorney general to investigate Bretz's conduct while in office. On Dec. 22, he was charged, convicted and sentenced on two counts of attempted official misconduct. Bretz, 38, was found guilty of filing a false felony charge against a young Joliet man who had impregnated the daughter of a client who was also a relative of Schneider's. He also was convicted of blocking the prosecution of a Schneider associate who was accused of improperly storing hazardous waste. Bretz was sentenced to two years of probation, a $2,000 fine and 800 hours of community service." http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1996-01-31/news/9601310139_1_law-license-illinois-supreme-court-charges
Tye September 25, 2013 at 10:32 AM
Convicted? That's not good for an attorney to be convicted of criminal activity, is it? http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1997-08-27/news/9708270263_1_pollution-case-murder-case-law-license
Tye September 25, 2013 at 10:39 AM
Is this right? Is this a THREE year suspension from the practice of law? No. This can't be, can it? In re Charles Luther Bretz, 96CH0118 Disposition: Suspension for a specified period Effective Date of Disposition: May 28, 1996 End Date of Disposition: May 28, 1999 Definition of Disposition: Suspension for a specified period reflects a determination that the lawyer has engaged in misconduct and that the misconduct warrants an interruption of the lawyer's authority to practice law during the suspension period, which is a fixed period of time identified in the Supreme Court's order. The lawyer is not authorized to practice law during the period of the suspension.

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