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Editor ordered to boost community project in column

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  1. First Amendment
Editor ordered to boost community project in column 10/06/97 NEW YORK--As part of his sentence for failing to appear in…

Editor ordered to boost community project in column

10/06/97

NEW YORK–As part of his sentence for failing to appear in court for a boating violation, a New York newspaper editor has been ordered to support a community project in his weekly column.

Mike Gossie, managing editor of The (Corning) Leader, was fined $190 and told that as part of his community service for failing to pay a boating ticket he would have to booster support for the construction of a local Boy Scout cabin through editorials and his column.

Gossie was cited on Keuka Lake in July for a broken light on his boat. Gossie said he mailed in the fine, but heard nothing else about it until a warrant for his arrest was executed in mid-September.

Gossie said he was shocked when Justice Wilfred LaChance in Wayne closed the courtroom and told him to write editorials and columns urging the community to help complete the languishing cabin project. LaChance said that the community service portion of the sentence was “between you, me and the deputy,” according to Gossie.

“He told me that what we need in the town of Wayne is a Boy Scout cabin, and what they needed from me in terms of community service was some PR,” Gossie said.

The judge threatened to hold Gossie in contempt after he questioned the judge’s order, Gossie said. “After that, I just kept my mouth shut,” he said.

George Welch, Gossie’s attorney, said he has asked LaChance to reconsider his decision. If LaChance declines, Gossie will appeal to the county court, Welch said. (New York v. Gossie; Media Counsel: George Welch, Corning)