RTDNA supports Patch.com reporter threatened with jail

September 26, 2013 03:15

In Illinois, a reporter for the online news service, Patch.com, is facing an indefinite stay in jail along with significant fines if he refuses to turn over his notes and reveal a source to a Will County (IL) judge.

Joe Hosey is defying the order from Judge Gerald Kinney, citing protection under the Illinois Reporters Privilege Act, the state’s shield law.  Kinney says his order is justified because of the exemption available to the courts if all other legal means of obtaining the information have failed.

RTDNA joins with the Illinois News Broadcasters Association, SPJ and the Chicago Headline Club in opposition to this ruling because there’s no clear evidence that the court has exhausted all other potential avenues to obtain the information. We request the judge withdraw his order. However, should he choose not to do so, RTDNA is asking the Illinois Appellate Court to overturn Kinney’s ruling. We will join these other journalism organizations in filing an amicus brief in the case.

 “Judge Kinney’s ruling is clearly an overreach and one that is designed to seriously chill journalists in Illinois,” said Mike Cavender, RTDNA Executive Director. “It’s in direct conflict with the state’s shield law.”

The judge’s order is stayed pending Hosey’s appeal of the ruling, a process which could take several months. The double-murder case at the center of this ruling involves four defendants, the attorney for one of which asked the judge for the contempt order against Hosey.