Everything online journalists need to protect their legal rights. This free resource culls from all Reporters Committee resources and includes exclusive content on digital media law issues.
An Illinois judge found a Patch.com reporter in contempt of court today for not revealing his confidential sources for a story he wrote about a double murder in Joliet, Ill.
Hosey has been fined $1,000 and has to pay court fees. He was also fined $300 a day until he reveals his sources, though the fines have been stayed pending an appeal, as reported by Patch.com. Kenneth Schmetterer, the reporter's attorney, filed an appeal immediately after the ruling, Patch.com reported.
Last month, Will County Circuit Court Judge Gerald Kinney gave Joe Hosey 21 days to hand over documents relating to his source. If the documents did not reveal the source's identity, Kinney said Hosey would have to write an affidavit detailing how he received the notes and from whom.
Schmetterer told the court that his client did not intend to turn over the documents and requested that the judge issue a contempt of court ruling so they could file an appeal.
“We were the ones who asked the judge to enter a contempt order. We just needed the mechanism to be able to advance the appeal,” Schmetterer said.
Defense attorneys argued that the information revealed by the sources could influence a jury.
Shield laws are meant to protect reporters from having to divulge their sources. Illinois has had a shield law since 1982; however, Judge Kinney earlier ruled that Hosey was not protected by it.